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Demand for gas masks in Israel wanes amid confusion about what happens next in Syria

Students in Israel try on gas masks during an IDF drilli in 2007. Photo: IDF

Fist fights and chaos broke out at post offices and other distribution points in Israel last week, where the Israeli Defense Forces were handing out gas masks to the public.

However, public concerns about a Syrian attack were mixed and the demand for masks dropped this week.
The Jerusalem Post reported that some Israelis expressed confusion about President Obama’s plan to strike Syria, and doubt that Syria would retaliate against Israel. Gilan Landman, who was picking up masks with her husband said she was taking the precaution at the urging of friends in the U.S.

“What I found really interesting is that the front page of the newspapers in Israel were all about first-graders starting school – then maybe on page eight, there was news about Syria and the repercussions for Israel, including the use of chemical weapons,” she said.

“So, despite what happened [at the mall] today, the impression I’m getting is that people aren’t that worried.”

Ruben said he attributed the preceding commotion to general Israeli impatience and intolerance for waiting in lines.

But others took the threats and chaos much more seriously:

One man, Araleh Sadan, said he believed that the attack may have been delayed because the Americans saw that Israel wasn’t ready, largely by watching the footage of the chaos at the gas mask distributions, which he said “made a mockery of all of us.”

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