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Monday, May 6, 2013

Israelis line up for gas masks

Preparedness at Israeli embassies was stepped up on Sunday over fears that Hezbollah may stage an attack as retaliation for Israeli airstrikes on Syria over the weekend.

In Israel, requests for gas-mask kits were up fourfold as fears grew of a possible Syrian response, though officials said the likelihood of a Syrian response is low.

Hezbollah, which was reportedly the intended recipient of the Iranian missile shipments stored at sites targeted in Damascus on Friday and Sunday, has been known to strike at Israeli and Jewish targets around the world, including a bus of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria last year. The group is also believed to be linked to attacks and attempted attacks on Israeli embassies in Georgia and India.

Distribution centers and post offices across the country said that the number of requests for masks was four times that of usual. According to Maariv, Israel has in its possession enough gas masks for approximately 60 percent of the population.

The IDF also took steps to prepare for a possible Syrian or Hezbollah response to Sunday morning’s airstrike, when it deployed two Iron Dome missile defense batteries in the north of the country on Sunday morning.

One Iron Dome battery was deployed in Safed and the other in Haifa, where officials convened an emergency meeting over gearing up for a possible response.

The IDF also shut down civilian airspace over the north of the country, closing Haifa’s regional airport.

The Iron Dome system has proved highly effective in stopping short-range rocket fire, intercepting 84 percent of the incoming rockets from Gaza during Operation Pillar of Defense last November.

The Times of Israel

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