GOC Home Front Command, Major-General Yair Golan, warned Sunday that an estimated 40% of Israel's population lacks gas masks. The IDF is planning to distribute gas masks to Israeli civilians, but currently lacks the funding to do so, he said. Military sources are seeking new sources of funding, he added.
Golan spoke at the Academic College in Netanya. His appearance at the college came just days after a major Home Front exercise, which was dubbed Nekudat Mifneh 4 (Turning Point 4).
He expressed satisfaction with the results of the exercise, which he said was the largest in Israel's history. He praised the 68 municipalities and emergency response teams that took part in the drill.
Golan revealed a plan to use mobile phones to alert citizens in case of attack. Beginning in November 2011, the army will send text warnings directly to civilians' cell phones, he said.
The IDF has updated the requirements for the reinforced rooms built into new apartments, Golan said. Such rooms will now be required to include ventilation and purification systems.
Sderot Mayor David Buskila spoke as well. He warned that the government's lack of action regarding attacks on Sderot could be a sign of things to come. “The abandonment of Sderot today, of Ashkelon tomorrow, of Ashdod two days from now – this cannot happen,” he said.
Former Defense Minister Amir Peretz took the podium and praised the Iron Dome system, which was designed to provide protection from short-range rocket fire. The system has passed initial tests, although critics say it may be ineffective against the relatively small “Kassam” rockets preferred by Gaza terrorists.