Gas mask distribution to Israeli civilians halted

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Gas mask distribution centers in Israel closed, following a decision by the Defense Ministry to halt the distribution of gas masks to the civilian public.

The centers closed Thursday, the last day scheduled for distribution by the Home Front Command of the Israel Defense Services and by the Israel Postal Company. The decision to cancel the public distribution of gas masks was made in January by the government’s Security cabinet.

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Some 63 percent of Israeli civilians have received their gas masks, according to the Postal Company.

The decision to halt the distribution will be reassessed at the end of the year, Haaretz reported.

The manufacturing of gas masks and protective kits will continue, however, mostly for u se by soldiers and reservists.

Israel pays about $85.2 million a year to maintain the gas mask program, Haaretz reported.

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Marcy Oster is a JTA correspondent in Israel. She worked at the Cleveland Jewish News for nearly 12 years and was senior staff reporter when she made aliyah in 2000. She has won several awards for her writing from organizations including The Press Club of Cleveland, Society for Professional Journalists, Women in Communications and the American Jewish Press Association.