MK Nachman Shai (Labor) and the Public Defense Front today petitioned the High Court of Justice to order the government to immediately manufacture gas masks and distribute them to the 40% of the population without them. The petitioners demand "to provide all of Israel's citizens and residents, equally and without discrimination, protective equipment against chemical weapons", given the threat from Syria, in view of US President Barack Obama's intention to attach Syria's chemical arms centers and military forces.
"The State of Israel faces permanent existential threats," states the petition. "One of them is the threat of chemical attack. The issue of equipping the entire public with gas masks repeatedly comes up in public dialogue and in government decisions. Today, in view of the delicate security situation, the executive's helplessness in dealing with the issue, its lack of direction, gross discrimination against broad segments of the population, and extreme unreasonable conduct are again demonstrated."
The petitioners state that, in July 2009, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the security cabinet to discuss "the gap between the actual and desirable gas mask inventory." In December 2009, the defense cabinet decided "to set the target to provide all of Israel's people with gas masks within two and a half years." They go on to say that the government has admitted that 40% of the population have no gas masks and that the IDF Home Front Command does not have enough gas masks to supply them to everyone.
When the Gulf War broke out in January 1991, the High Court of Justice heard a similar petition over the discrimination of Palestinian residents in Judea and Samaria in receiving gas masks. The judges dismissed the state's arguments and ordered the distribution of gas masks to all the citizens and residents in Israel and the territories forthwith.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on September 3, 2013
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