More than one million Israeli citizens vulnerable to chemical attack

Israeli officials said that approximately 1.7 million Israelis could be vulnerable to a chemical or missile attack by Iran because of their inability to retreat to bunkers or bomb shelters.

In addition, approximately 40 percent of the population of the country is not able to obtain gas masks and most schools do not have the space to place their students in an area that is protected. The information may point to a disparity between residents of wealthy communities and the people who live in underprivileged areas, the Jewish Voice reports.

"There are some 1.7 million residents living in Israel who don't have a bomb shelter or a bunker," Zeev Bielski, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Subcommittee for the Examination of Home Front Readiness, said, according to the Jewish Voice. "We're talking about some 400,000 homes and apartments, most of which were built in the 1950s. In case a war breaks out, these residents will be told: 'Sit under a doorpost.'"

A recent plan to protect stairwells in older buildings was not implemented due to budgetary issues. Another preparedness issue is the shortage of gas masks that would be needed in case of a chemical attack.

"This is only the beginning," Bielski said, according to the Jewish Voice. "The biggest scandal involves ABC (atomic, biological and chemical protection) kits. The state of Israel has issued ABC kits to anyone who demands them, fully knowing there are not enough gas masks to go around. It must be made clear that this is not an off-the-shelf product and we cannot order it from other countries."

The comments related to the lack of bomb shelters and gas masks come against the backdrop of a potential Israeli military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities and a possible retaliation against Israel.