As strike on Syria looms, Israelis scramble for gas masks. Netanyahu says Israel will hit hard if Syrian threat detected.

Cause for concern? The recent tension along the northern border has caused a spike in demand for gas masks. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/Times of Israel).

Cause for concern? The recent tension along the northern border has caused a spike in demand for gas masks. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90/Times of Israel).

UPDATED: (Washington, D.C.) — Israeli military forces and civil defense authorities are on full alert, looking for any sign that Syria is about to attack, especially with chemical weapons. Netanyahu warned Israel will hit hard if a Syrian threat is detected.

“The State of Israel is ready for any scenario. We are not part of the civil war in Syria but if we identify any attempt whatsoever to harm us, we will respond and we will respond in strength,” Netanyahu said on Tuesday after a meeting with his security advisers, his second in as many days.

“Requests for gas masks among Israelis saw a major increase on Sunday and Monday, reflecting growing concern among the country’s citizens of a possible Syrian chemical attack following assessments that the US will soon launch a military assault on the war-torn country,” reports the Times of Israel.

“Israeli post offices, which serve as distribution points for gas masks, reported receiving 300 percent more phone calls on Sunday and Monday than on an average day from people who wished to acquire protection kits,” the Times noted. “More than twice as many people than average approached the distribution points themselves….According to numbers released by the government, only 60% of Israelis currently possess gas masks.”


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Tensions with Syria escalate. Netanyahu orders Iron Dome batteries deployed in North. Number of Israelis seeking gas masks triples.

“Two Iron Dome batteries have been deployed in northern Israel over the past few days, the IDF said on Sunday,” reports Ynet News. “One battery of the missile-defense system was deployed in the Krayot area, while the other was installed in the Galilee region. Additional, fully operational batteries have already been deployed in the Haifa are and in other locations. About a week ago the security establishment successfully tested an upgraded version of the Iron Dome rocket defense system in Israel’s central region. The upgrades are designed to give the Iron Dome ‘improved capabilities against an unprecedented range of threats,’ the Defense Ministry said. ‘The test, which was completed successfully, will lead to an upgrade in Iron Dome’s operational capabilities.’”

Meanwhile, Ynet also reports: ”The defense establishment’s concerns about the potential threat of chemical weapons from Syria and Hezbollah has not gone unnoticed by the Israeli public. The Israel Postal Serivce reported Wednesday that more Israelis are updating their gas masks and ABC kits. In fact, the number of Israelis changing their nonconventional warfare protection kits has nearly tripled over the past month. The public demand can be attributed to recent upheaval in Syria and the alarming possibility that the regime’s arsenal of nonconventional weapons may find its way to Hezbollah, as was implied by IAF Chief Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel Tuesday. ‘Syria is undergoing tectonic changes. Given its massive arsenals, Israel may find itself dealing with nonconventional weapons on its borders,’ Eshel said.”

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