Demand for gas masks jumps as public’s anxiety over possible war rises

There are only enough masks for 60% of the population, says head of distribution project

A man tries out a gas mask at a distribution center, July 25 , 2012. (photo credit: Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)
A man tries out a gas mask at a distribution center, July 25 , 2012. (photo credit: Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)

Public demand for gas masks, rehabbed bomb shelters and other protective measures has risen dramatically as Israelis have become increasingly jittery over a possible Israeli strike on Iran and the ensuing potential retaliation.

Amid numerous speculative reports about the far-reaching implications of such a strike, Israelis are preparing for possible violence by renovating their personal bomb shelters and flocking to pick up gas masks.

Ethan Arkbi, in charge of the distribution of gas masks, told Channel 10 on Tuesday that there had been a “100% increase in the distribution of gas masks,” but that there are only enough gas masks in warehouses for about 60% of the population.

Building engineers are also reporting that they are unable to cope with the influx of requests for building and bomb shelter inspections.

The Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command said a quarter to a third of regional authorities are not prepared to deal with an emergency. Home Front Command sources estimate that the Gush Dan area is better prepared than outlying authorities.

According to the Home Front Command, only 53 percent of the population has gas masks and only 30% of households have a reinforced safety room. A quarter of the population does not have a bomb shelter in their building or even close by.

The inclusion of a reinforced safe room to provide protection against missile and bomb attacks has been a requirement in all new residential buildings since the 1990s. This replaced the former arrangement of installing bomb shelters beneath buildings or in communal locations.

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