Israel suspends distribution of gas masks

The Israeli Defense Forces Home Front Command plans to suspend the distribution of gas masks to the Israeli public in two months due to a refusal by the government to allocate the necessary funds.
The distribution will cease despite concern that the country could come under chemical attack due to growing instability in Syria. There are currently 3.5 million citizens who have received new gas masks under the IDF's distribution program, the Jerusalem Post reports.
The shortage is the result of a disagreement between the Defense Ministry and the Treasury over where funding for the refurbishment and distribution of the masks will come from. The distribution will cease in February after the remaining budget runs out.
“The result would be disastrous since the whole program will be dismantled and the production line at the factories will shut down,” a senior Home Front Command officer, said, according to the Jerusalem Post. “It will take months just to get things up and running again if and when a new budget is received.”
The gas mask budget shortfall comes as the IDF has become increasingly concerned with the possibility that the extensive chemical weapons arsenal of Syria will fall into rogue terrorist hands. The IDF is also concerned that Syria's President Bashar Assad will be tempted to attack Israel if he feels the demise of his regime is impending.
The IDF has recorded a sharp increase in the number of Israelis contacting the gas mask distributor, the Israel Postal Company, to come to their homes and replace their old masks with new ones. There were 181,000 Israelis in November who contacted the company compared to just 54,000 in October.