Despite mounting tensions between Israel and Syria, the defense establishment has decided to hold off on distributing gas masks to the general public, officials said Monday.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak is in charge of making a decision to distribute gas masks and has for the time being decided not to, out of fear that the move would lead to war with Syria.
Other, more technical considerations, have also been taken into account.
Defense officials said Monday that Barak has been holding frequent meetings with officers from Military Intelligence and the Home Front Command to evaluate the situation and determine if it is time to distribute masks.
Defense officials said there was a fear that if gas masks were distributed, the move would be interpreted as Israeli preparations for war and that Syria would, as a result, decide to attack.
Syria is believed to have a large stockpile of chemical and biological weapons.
According to the Global Security Web site, the Syrian arsenal is comprised mostly of large amounts of Sarin and mustard gas and Syria is reportedly producing and weaponizing VX.
The US, the report says, has estimated Syria to possess several hundred liters of chemical weapons with hundreds of tons of agents produced annually.
Defense officials recently revealed that if war were to break out in the coming months, the Home Front Command would only have enough gas masks for 1.5 million adults and half a million children.
As a result, the Defense Ministry is currently considering proposals to make emergency purchases of gas masks from Israeli and American companies, if the need arises.