Gas mask distribution may take 5 years

OC Home Front chief: Hundreds additional sirens to be installed, missile alert systems to get upgrade.

Yair Golan 224 88 (photo credit: IDF [file])
Yair Golan 224 88
(photo credit: IDF [file])
A day after sirens were activated nationwide during the weeklong emergency exercise, OC Home Front Command Maj.-Gen Yair Golan admitted Wednesday that there were "gaps" in the siren's performance and that the IDF was looking into various technologies to improve the system's range. Speaking at a press conference at Home Front Command headquarters in Ramle, Golan said 219 complaints had been filed by people who said they didn't hear the sirens, which were activated for 90 seconds at 10 a.m. on Tuesday. Golan said the IDF was looking into the feasibility of sending SMS text messages to all cellphones in the event of a real missile attack, in addition to activating the thousands of sirens. He said that hundreds of additional sirens would be installed during the coming year. More than 1,500 were activated during Tuesday's exercise, Golan told reporters from a newly built Home Front Command studio that IDF officers will use to pass on messages to the public in the event of a war. "There are still gaps in the warning system," he said. "We have spent the past two years since the Second Lebanon War improving the system, but we understand that the State of Israel will need to make more improvements and to technologically upgrade the system." Other options that have been proposed are the distribution of beeper alert systems or using radio, TV and the Internet to transmit the alert. Golan downplayed media reports of increased tensions between Israel and its neighbors over the exercise. "There is no mysterious intent behind the exercise and I think that this message has been understood [by our neighbors]," he said. Regarding last week's cabinet decision to redistribute gas masks, Golan said it could take up to five years until the entire public was re-supplied. He said that following the cabinet decision, a multi-year plan would be formulated that would regulate the production and distribution as well as calculate the necessary budget for the masks. Israel, he said, was not currently "at the place" it should be concerning protection from chemical terror attacks. But, he said, within a number of years the Home Front would be better positioned to provide a response to the threat. "There will not be an immediate solution tomorrow morning," Golan said. "It will take time, possibly three to four, or five years until 100 percent of Israel receives the masks."