Gas mask redistribution to take 2 years

Ministries continue to wrangle over funding; but IDF has contingency plan in case a conflict erupts.

gas masks 3 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
gas masks 3 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The public will have to wait two more years before getting all its gas masks back, as the Defense Ministry continues to wrangle with the Treasury over funding for the kits' refurbishment and distribution, a defense officials said Thursday. Since the Defense Ministry began collecting the public's gas masks in 2006, close to 80 percent of the masks have been collected and most of them refurbished. The IDF plans to begin returning the masks to the public starting in November. The first cities to receive the masks will be Haifa and the greater Tel Aviv area. However, the IDF has drawn up an emergency contingency plan in case a conflict erupts and there is fear that nonconventional weapons will be used against Israel. Under the plan, the IDF can distribute masks to most of the public in 48 hours, officials said. Meanwhile Thursday, the Home Front Command kicked off a nationwide campaign aimed at teaching Israelis how to choose a secure room in their homes. The campaign will culminate in a nationwide exercise that will, for the first time, include the entire population. The exercise - called Turning Point 3 - will be the third home front exercise to be held since the Second Lebanon War in 2006 and the founding of the Defense Ministry's National Emergency Administration (NEA), which is responsible for setting national emergency standards. The drill will begin on May 31 in the various government ministries and will culminate with the sounding of a siren on June 2 at 11 a.m., during which civilians will be asked to enter secure rooms or bomb shelters. "All of the State of Israel is within range of missiles, " Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i said Thursday. "The Syrians and Hizbullah have missiles that can reach any city in Israel, including in the Negev, and Israel needs to prepare for scenarios during which hundreds of rockets will hit the home front. Every person needs to know that there is a chance that at a time of war, a missile might land in their backyard." As part of the campaign, the IDF will distribute magnets with a map of the country, detailing the amount of time the residents of each region - North, Gush Dan, Jerusalem, Negev - have to enter a secure room or bomb shelter from the moment a siren is sounded until impact. More information can be obtained at the Home Front Command's Web site,