'Just in Case,' Israelis Flock to Get Gas Masks
Although no one has officially said that a war is imminent, or even on the horizon, the tension in Syria and the reports of missiles launched at northern Israel in recent days has caused a significant increase in requests for gas mask kits, reported the Israel Post Office, which distributes the kits. Until approximately two weeks ago, around 2,000 kits were distributed daily; on Sunday, 4,730 were distributed, a record number for one day.
A similar increase was seen in the number of Israelis who sought customized gas masks, to accommodate children and people with special requirements. Several weeks ago, 200 such requests were made a day; on Sunday, there were 400 such requests.
The Post Office said that so far, 4,800,000 mask kits have been distributed in total. The increase in requests could also be due to announcements recently broadcast by the Homefront Security Ministry, that gas mask distributions will soon end. Israelis can order kits directly to their homes by dialling 171, the Ministry said.
The apparent trigger for Sunday's bumper day of mask distribution was a report over the weekend that a rocket had been fired into Israel, by either Syria or Hizbullah. Lebanese media reported that the rocket had hit within Israel and that a loud explosion had been heard on both sides of the border.
IDF officials said later on Sunday that a search of the area had not yielded any evidence of rocket-fire into Israel, and as such could not confirm if such an event had in fact taken place or not.