Saturday, August 18, 2012

It’s business as usual, Israelis say, as they get in line for gas masks

IIn a small shopping mall in southern Jerusalem, the effects of a recent flurry of apocalyptic media reports were visible a few steps from the Delta underwear store and a Chinese massage stand: A crush of more than 100 people waiting for a harried postal worker to hand them a brown cardboard box with a gas mask inside.

Authorities have been urging Israelis to pick up gas masks for several months, with little apparent effect; two weeks ago, residents coming to the distribution point at the Hadar Mall did not have to stand on line at all. On Thursday, however, a crowd of Jerusalemites – Arabs, Jews, a few men in black hats, the elderly, parents with young children – clutched yellow number stubs and waited for more than an hour to get the kits that are meant to protect them in case of a chemical or biological attack.

Daniel Hasson, a resident of the nearby neighborhood of Talpiot, carried his small daughter as he waited. The crowd, he said, was partially due to “hype in the media.”

“I’m standing in line to get a gas mask because I have to, but I have nothing against the Iranian or Syrian people,” Hasson said. Read More