Gas mask distribution on rise in Israel

July 25, 2012 at 7:14 AM
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JERUSALEM, July 25 (UPI) -- The number of Israelis seeking gas masks has increased amid fears Syria's chemical weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists, officials said.

Officials said fears are growing the weapons could fall into the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Hebrew language Maariv newspaper said Wednesday.

The number of Israelis seeking to obtain gas masks has risen by 70 percent since the beginning of the week, with 3,700 masks distributed daily compared with an average of 2,200 masks handed out daily since the distribution campaign began in February 2010, the paper said.

Since the beginning of the Israeli army's distribution campaign, some 4.12 million gas masks have been handed out at distribution centers set up in seven postal authority buildings.

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said Tuesday Israel could face a large scale conflict in the aftermath of an attack on Syria's chemical weapons. Speaking before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Gantz said the weapons are still under President Bashar Assad's control, The Jerusalem Post said.

Gantz said the dilemma Israel faces is identifying when to take action to prevent the chemical weapons from falling into terrorist hands.

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