An Israeli boy receives help to fit a gas mask at a distribution center in a shopping center in Mevaseret Zion on the outskirts of Jerusalem© AFP 2013/ Menahem Kahana
TEL AVIV, January 31 (RIA Novosti) - The demand for gas masks almost tripled in Israel in January amid concerns about the safety of the Syrian chemical weapons stockpile, the Ynet news portal said on Wednesday.
The Israel Postal Service, charged with free distribution of non-conventional warfare protection equipment, said the number of Israelis who decided to update their gas masks and ABC kits has almost tripled in the past month.
The Postal Service said the number of daily orders has spiked from an average of 200 a day to 500 a day.
ABC (atomic, biological, and chemical) kits have been distributed in Israel since 1991. They contain a gas mask and atropine pens, which are periodically updated according to their respective expiration dates.
The demand was possibly fuelled by concerns expressed by top state and defense officials over the possibility that radical groups may gain control of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday expressed his concerns about the weapons of mass destruction in Syria, with the country "increasingly coming apart” as a result of the 22-month-long civil conflict. Vice premier Silvan Shalom said an Israeli preemptive strike to prevent Syrian chemical weapons from falling into the hands of Hezbollah was possible.
IAF Chief Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel warned on Tuesday that “given [Syria’s] massive [WMD] arsenals Israel may find itself dealing with nonconventional weapons on its borders."
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