Times of Malta reports Israel decided yesterday to end a decades-old policy of issuing gas masks to the public in an apparent sign of confidence in Syria’s chemical weapons disarmament.
Since being hit by Iraqi Scud missiles during the 1991 Gulf War, authorities have handed out masks, though Syria’s chemical arsenal was Israel’s primary concern in recent years, says Times of Malta.
That changed, adds Times of Malta, when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, embroiled in a civil war and under threat of a US-military strike, agreed last year to give up his chemical weapons stockpile. The final deadline set for eliminating the chemical agents is the end of June.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office said the decision to stop providing masks was a result of “a defense establishment assessment that there has been a dramatic decline in the threat of the firing of chemical weapons at Israel”.