Shadow of Syria: Israelis Line Up for Gas Masks

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- The Israeli army stepped up its alert level this week, deploying air defense anti-missile batteries around the country and calling up a limited number of reservists.

The country is preparing for a worse-case scenario following an expected U.S. attack on Syria that could bring retaliation on the Jewish state from that rogue regime.

Israeli citizens are also flocking to distribution centers to get their gas mask protective kits.

At one of the many gas mask distribution centers, there's a three- to four-hour wait. Israelis reason that if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad didn't mind using chemical weapons against his own people, why should he care about killing Israelis?

But despite tension and the rush on gas masks, most Israelis are staying calm.

"It's scary -- kind of worrying," a woman named Elana told CBN News. "We're very close by and I hope things sort out peacefully."

"I've lived here 43 years. I imagine I would have to be stupid not to be concerned. Afraid? Well, no. Whatever will happen, will happen," an Israeli, originally from America, said.

"You know, we're a very small country. Israel is very small, but God take(s) care of Israel," another woman said, pointing skyward.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Israelis to maintain their daily routines, but warned that Israel was ready for action.

"We are prepared for any scenario. The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) is ready to defend against any threat and to respond strongly against any attempt to harm Israeli citizens," Netanyahu said.

Despite the warning, most analysts believe chances are low that Israel will get dragged into a war with Syria.

"It all depends on the nature of the strike. If it's basically a punitive measure…nothing will happen. If it goes after decapitating the regime, anything could happen," Middle East expert Michael Widlanski told CBN News.

Widlanski said Assad is afraid of Israeli retaliation.

"The Syrians know that the Israelis mean business, and they'll try to stay away from Israel unless they're being suicidal or unless they realize that they're going down," he said.

Still, Widlanski said this is the Middle East and anything could happen.

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CBN News
Julie Stahl and Chris Mitchell

Julie Stahl and Chris Mitchell

CBN News Jerusalem Bureau

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