Public may pay for gas masks

If IDF plan is okayed, people will pay an estimated NIS 220 for kits.

By
June 18, 2010 05:20
2 minute read.
Illustration

gas mask 311. (photo credit: AP)

 
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The IDF Home Front Command has drawn up a revolutionary plan under which the government will stop paying for the public’s gas masks; instead each citizen will, if desired, buy his or her own protective kit.

Until now, the government has paid for and distributed gas masks to the public. This was the case ahead of the 1991 First Gulf War, as well as in 2003 ahead of the American invasion of Iraq. Most recently, the Defense Ministry collected the public’s gas masks and has been in the process of refurbishing and distributing them via the Israel Postal Company, which won a tender last year.

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According to the new plan, drafted by OC Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan, the Defense Ministry will only be responsible for distributing gas masks to children up to age eight, as well as to people below the poverty line, estimated by the defense establishment to be under 200,000.

Each gas mask will cost an estimated NIS 220, and if the plan is approved, they will be available for purchase throughout the country. The reason the IDF wants to continue to distribute gas masks for children is that they are larger kits that operate on batteries and require special attention.

Golan recently presented the plan to Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i, and it is under evaluation. For the plan to proceed, it will need to be approved by the government.

Since the beginning of April, several hundred thousand Israelis have picked up their gas masks from the Postal Company. At the same time, though, the IDF is missing about NIS 1.3 billion to complete the refurbishment of the gas masks and purchase new kits. With its current budget, it will only be able to supply 60 percent of the public with masks.

In discussions about the new plan, the Home Front Command has argued that as long as the government is not willing to provide the entire necessary budget, it could be more effective for the Defense Ministry to stop its involvement in the program and literally pass the buck to the citizen. Studies conducted by the IDF show that approximately 70% of the public will buy gas masks, and the remaining 30% will wait to purchase theirs until a state of emergency.


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