Gas Masks to be Distributed in January

Ad Feedback - JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i said Sunday that the government will distribute refurbished gas mask kits to the public in January.

Vilna'i said the government will be issuing a tender to the private sector for the gas mask redistribution. In the past, the Home Front Command handled the distribution of gas masks to the public.

Member of Knesset (MK) Yuval Steinitz, chairman of the Knesset Subcommittee for Security Preparation, criticized the postponement.

"The masks were collected during 2007, and the government said it will repair and redistribute them all over northern Israel and to reserves soldiers by the end of 2007. Then, at the beginning of 2008, the government was supposed to complete the redistribution to the rest of Israel," Steinitz said.

"Here we are two years later, and no masks have been redistributed," he said.

"No one can tell when we will be at war. If we have an escalation with Syria, or if, for example, America attacks Iran and some Shihab missiles with gas fall on Tel Aviv or Haifa, it would be impossible to distribute the masks. So I think this is very irresponsible," Steinitz said.

"I can tell you with confidence if there is war tomorrow, not even 20 percent of the population would receive the masks," he said.

"Reserve soldiers will head to units without gas masks, and they will need it more than anyone else. We've checked this, and we found it is entirely impossible to distribute them in times of emergency," he said.

"This is so ridiculous because we have between four and five million masks that have been renovated, at a cost of several billion shekels. So if war breaks out tomorrow, it will be as if the masks don't exist," he said.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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