The Defense Ministry has halted efforts to collect and refurbish close to seven million gas masks from the public due to insufficient funds, Channel 2 reported Tuesday. According to the report, 4.5 million masks have already been collected, but the ministry is missing NIS 40 million needed to complete the operation, as well as funds required to refurbish the masks. The ministry has notified manpower companies involved in the project to prepare to stop collecting masks, Channel 2 stated. The halting of the operation leaves millions of Israeli citizens unprotected in case of a chemical or biological attack on the nation. The Jerusalem Post first reported in November of last year that the IDF was missing crucial funds needed to complete the refurbishing process. Defense officials warned then that if the money was not allocated in the coming months, the project would be delayed and the redistribution of the masks to the public would have to be postponed until the end of the decade. Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.