Syria fears send gas mask demand north

Israelis rush to distribution centers as concerns grow over chemical weapons falling into Hezbollah hands

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A man tries out a gas mask at an Israeli distribution center (photo credit: Noam Moskowitz/Flash90/File)
A man tries out a gas mask at an Israeli distribution center (photo credit: Noam Moskowitz/Flash90/File)

Postal officials reported a significant increase in demand for gas masks and other protective gear Wednesday, as fears of Syrian chemical weapons being turned against Israel ramped up.

Statistics showed that on Tuesday, almost three times the average number of citizens came to distribution centers across the country to receive gas masks.

Officials from the Israel Postal Company said that over 4,000 masks had been given out Tuesday, up from 1,400 on the days before. The company also stated that in Jerusalem and Beersheba the numbers were especially high, up from less than 400 a day to over 1,000.

As of now, more than 4,700,000 protective gear kits have been distributed countrywide.

The nearly two-year Syrian uprising against the Assad regime has claimed the lives of over 60,000 people, according to recent estimates by the United Nations, and the future may hold a further destabilizing of the nation to Israel’s northeast.

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dispatched National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror to Moscow for a brief visit aimed at convincing the Kremlin to take steps to prevent Syria’s stockpiles from falling into the hands of terrorist groups.

Israel has said on several occasions that the transfer of chemical weapons to non-state actors, especially Hezbollah, would be a casus belli. Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said Sunday that such a transfer of arms “would be crossing a line that would demand a different approach.”

Also Sunday, Israel deployed two Iron Dome batteries in the north, at least one of them near Haifa, amid growing fears that Syrian chemical weapons may be turned against the Jewish state.

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