Last week a friend made me aware of the disturbing facts regarding gas mask distribution in our war-prone country. I will share everything I know about it here.

I have tried to be careful about the facts but please verify them for yourself. I am not responsible if any of the details in this post turn out not to be 100% accurate.

Temporary gas mask distribution centres

In Mako, a Hebrew-language news website, an article published March 1, 2012 said that because of lack of budget, the country is ceasing to manufacture gas masks. This means that in total there are only enough masks for 60% of the population.

Home Front Command (aka Pikud Ha’oref) has opened temporary gas mask distribution centres until the end of March, 2012.

Here is the list of locations. The list excludes Jerusalem and includes the following cities/towns:

  • Moshav Barkat
  • Ramleh
  • Lod
  • Holon
  • Bat Yam (that’s where we went)
  • Savyon
  • Tel Aviv
  • Ramat Gan
  • Petach Tikva
  • Netanya
  • Haifa

Go to this link in order to see exact locations, dates and times.

How we picked up close to 20 gas masks

Amazingly, you can pick up masks for anyone, as long as you have their teudat zeihut (Israeli ID card).

I know, it’s unclear whether or not gas masks will even be protective if the need arises but since they’re giving them out and Iran is looming, when I heard these somewhat disturbing facts last week, I decided to get masks for as many members of my immediate family as possible. My mother agreed to join me for the ride.

We decided to go to Bat Yam’s municipality the morning they were opening at the time they opened – March 22nd at 8:00am.

When we arrived, we saw boxes of masks waiting to be distributed.

Boxes of gas masks ready for distribution in Bat Yam, March 2012

The process of picking up approximately 20 masks turned out to be extremely easy.

We showed up with five teudot zehut (ID cards).

Basically, we had to do nothing. The Pikud Haoref dude (who had glasses on top of his head and was very nice in Israeli-style – see my Sabra article for reference) opened up one teudat zehut at a time, scanned it with a super-hi-tech-impressive-tiny-machine-thing and then took out masks for everyone mentioned in that teudat zeihut.

For example, he opened up the ID card of one sister and started taking out children masks for the young ones – writing their names on the boxes – medium masks for elementary-age children and adult masks for everyone else. In the end I had received masks for her, her husband and her children.

Those boxes are all ours. But more importantly, notice the glasses on the top of his head.

Even with the amazing efficiency and automation, gathering 20-ish gas masks takes some time. I was on edge, waiting for the people behind us to get impatient when Mr. Pikud would open yet another ID card and start pulling out box after box. But everyone took it in good humour and we all ended up chatting about how many boxes were piling up and how the little kids were unlikely to agree to wear their masks even if we ever decided that they should.

It's easy to smile when you and your family are part of the 60% of the Israeli population who have gas masks.

And that was it. Well, besides that we went to visit the beach before returning to land-locked Jerusalem.

Bat Yam beach

Some final tips

Here are a few things I learned from our trip to Bat Yam’s temporary gas mask distribution centre:

  • If you have a gas mask which you received from Pikud Ha’oref within the last two years, then yours is still fine.
  • If you are a Jerusalemite and you have a car, Bat Yam is very possibly the ideal location for you since the new 431 highway makes the trip so fast and at least when we were there, there was plenty of parking in the area. (Here are directions.)
  • Go with someone.
  • Pick up masks for friends and family if you’re planning on going anyway.
  • Probably best to go right when it opens.

Good luck! If you learn more important details about this, please feel free to share your knowledge in the comments below.