At this mall in Jerusalem, it takes 2 to 3 hours to get free gas masks....considered an unthinkable inconvenience just a few months ago, today Israelis are flocking to these makeshift distribution centers on fears that the long talked about war with Iran is finally coming... On average 2,000 gas masks are distributed at centers like this on days when war fears peak. But officials say recently that number has often doubled to almost 4,000... This is how difficult one former Israeli official publicly described a war with Iran: The outgoing home front defense minister Matan Vilnai said it would be a 30 day war fought on multiple fronts...thousands of missiles would fall and at least 500 Israelis would die.
The gas masks are supposed to protect Israelis against any deadly chemical or biological weapons used in a possible war...more than Iran, Israel fears Hezbollah or other terrorist groups may use unconventional weapons against Israel, weapons they may seize from Syria's reportedly large stockpile due to the political chaos there... The gas masks come in 3 sizes for 8 year olds and adults...more elaborate bubble- like head covering have been made for younger children... But other Israelis seemed less frightened...
Just over half of all Israelis -- about 4 million - have gas masks at home, according to government sources...almost 60% is the state's target. Critics say more should be made to cover all citizens...Others question how much protection the mask will really provide... But for the Israelis here today, they seem intent on being safe, rather than sorry.
Jordana Miller, JN1, Jerusalem.