The defense establishment will be starting to hand out gas masks to the general public Sunday.
The masks will initially be distributed in a limited area and within a few weeks will be handed out nationwide. Israelis who have not returned their old gas masks will have to pay for the new ones.
About a year and a half after the defense establishment completed the collection of roughly 80% of the old gas masks, the Israel Postal Company, which won a tender, will embark on the distribution of new masks in the Kiryat Ono region, east of Tel Aviv. Area residents have already received notifications about the distribution project.
Postal service and IDF Home Front officials will be monitoring the project, and should all go well, masks will be distributed in another area next and by April be handed out in other regions. The process is expected to take about five years in total and will see the State distributeing more than seven million protection systems of various types.
During this period, the State will add more gas masks to its stockpiles, as at this time it only possesses about 70% of the masks required by the entire population. Officials note that about 40% of the older gas masks returned by citizens were still sealed and in good condition, so they required only quick rehabilitation work.
Military officials stressed that the distribution of gas masks is not linked to intelligence or operational assessments ahead of a possible clash on the northern border. Army sources also made clear that the large-scale exercise held in the north last week is unrelated to the distribution of the masks.