Barak refuses to order distribution of gas masks

Defense Minister Ehud Barak will not order the distribution of gas masks, despite intelligence reports that Syria has built up an arsenal of missiles that can carry biological and chemical warheads, Army Radio reported on Monday. According to military assessments, Syria is nearing the end of an accelerated deployment of a large rocket arsenal of Katyusha and Scud missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv and causing thousands of civilian casualties. However, Barak has decided to avoid taking concrete action out of fear that distribution of gas masks could be interpreted as preparation for war. MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud), who heads the Knesset Subcommittee on the Home Front's Preparedness, emphasized the importance of readying the Home Front for a possible military attack. "I say it's possible to defend the citizens of the state from threats, and whoever does not do this will stand before a commission of inquiry next to which the Winograd Committee will pale in comparison."