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Distribution of gas masks, archives Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv
Distribution of gas masks, archives Photo: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv

Home Front continues distributing gas masks to public

Though defense minister recommended stopping distribution of ABC kits, Home Front will reassess situation only in mid-2014; new committee reevaluates chemical threat

Yoav Zitun
Published: 12.08.13, 19:38 / Israel News

The Home Front Command stressed on Sunday that there is no intention to stop the distribution of ABC kits in the near future. Though it was recommended by the defense establishment to cease the distribution, an official source said that a renewed debate on the matter will only take place in seven months. This information is joined by official details pointing out that only 63% of the population will have gas masks seven months from now.


About a month ago, a committee headed by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon stated that with the decrease of chemical threat on Israel, partly due to the disarmament of Syrian President Bashar Assad's chemical weapons arsenal, the distribution of ABC kits to the public should be stopped.


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The Home Front Command, however, disagreed with the recommendation. A committee joined by various professionals from the Home Front Command, Planning Directorate and Defense Ministry was established recently in order to reexamine the possibility of a chemical threat to the country.


"The concern here is not an economic one, but rather a military one, though such a move may save millions of shekels," said a senior home front source. "If the distribution would be stopped in the middle of next year there would only be 63% of the public with kits, and the gap for full equipment would stand at NIS 1.3 million ($370,000). About 70-80% of people in areas of conflict have gas masks, and towards mid-2014 we can reassess the situation."


The Home Front Command said that generally there is a decrease in demand for ABC kits, though during an emergency drill some 6,000 kits were distributed in Sakhnin within only a few hours. According to IDF estimates, despite the destroying of chemical weapons in Syria, the likelihood of a chemical terror attack actually increased during the past year. This scenario will be exercised by the defense establishment in Jerusalem in the next few days.


According to IDF estimates, 63% of the local authorities in Israel, in which 6.4 million people reside, are in high readiness for an emergency scenario. About 24% (34 local authorities with 1.2 million residents) are in medium state of readiness and the rest, mostly Arab communities, are at a low level of preparedness. The Home Front Command noted that only 23 local authorities have improved their state in comparison to the previous year.



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