In a few days, the defense establishment will be publishing a tender in an effort to select a private-sector gas mask distributer. If all goes according to plan, the handing out of new gas masks will get underway in December 2009 and may take up to five years.
A total of 5.2 million masks were collected in the framework of a campaign that ended last summer, marking 77% of the total gas masks distributed to Israelis.
"We hope that many citizens will be responsible enough to take care of this issue and not neglect it," Colonel (res.) Yossi Sagiv of the IDF Home Front told Ynet.
The defense establishment thoroughly examined the question of gas mask distribution costs in recent months, in order to determine whether the army should undertake the mission or seek an outside contractor. The analysis revealed that securing a private sector contractor would save tens of millions of shekels.
"We wish to adapt the distribution to the modern era, with an effective marketing model and a smart and effective strategy," Sagiv said.
Meanwhile, efforts will be made to repossess the roughly 1.6 unreturned million gas masks in the framework of the new distribution campaign.
"Citizens who did not return the mask and who do not have it in their possession will be required to pay before getting a new mask," Sagiv said.