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Israel plans to reissue gas masks to its citizens.

Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i said Thursday that in the near future, the Home Front Command will distribute gas masks that were collected after the 2003 Persian Gulf War.

Vilna’i denied that the measure came in response to a specific threat of non-conventional war with Israel’s enemies. He likened it to the kind of precautions taken in California against this week’s forest fires.

“We will begin giving back gas masks in accordance with our order of priorities,” Vilna’i told Israel’s Army Radio. “This is a plan that has been in place since January 2007.

“Any country in the world has to be ready for emergencies. A big part of that is training the population. We determined that now is the right time to start this process, given all of the tensions that dog us constantly.”

Since last year’s Lebanon war there has been speculation that Israel could find itself in conflict with Syria, which is believed to have long-range missiles tipped with chemical and biological warheads. Israel is also expected to be caught up in any future confrontation between the United States and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program.

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