Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Good-for-nothing gas masks

"Good-for-nothing gas masks"?! Surely you were hoping for a happier topic for my "G" contribution to ABC Wednesday. But after reading a disturbing article in today's Jerusalem Post, I really must vent (pardon the pun).

In his report, handed to the acting Speaker of the Knesset yesterday, State Comptroller Lindenstrauss warned that
1. Gas masks soon to be distributed by the IDF to civilians across the country are not fit for use.
2. The state has not been able to find masks for purchase in overseas markets that would protect infants and children from chemical attack.
3. New masks have not been purchased due to years of bickering between the Defense Ministry and the Treasury over where the budget will come from.
4. Masks currently under development have been found to constitute a mortal danger to their users.
5. The IDF (the army) has no real plan how to distribute masks to us.
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Do you remember the first Gulf War in 1991, when Iraq invaded Kuwait? Well, Saddam Hussein also fired 39 Scud missiles on Israel and he threatened that the warheads would carry nerve gas, anthrax, etc. It was the worst month and a half of my life, mostly from worrying where my kids would be if and when the worst happened. Usually the air raid sirens came at night and gave us a few seconds to run to our "sealed room," take cover under a table, put on the awful gas masks, and wait to hear our windows rattle and the 4-storey apartment building shake as the missiles exploded around us. (Our family lived near Tel Aviv then.) Imagine, sealing the doors with masking tape, as if that would save us. ha!
Sometimes we had to wait an hour until the army checked the Scuds that had fallen and then sounded the all-clear siren, meaning no chemical warheads.
Did you ever try breathing through a gas mask during tense moments? Maybe leaders of every country should try it for an hour.
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So maybe today's State Comptroller report is a blessing in disguise. I, for one, do not really want my old refurbished gas mask returned to me.

35 comments:

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Very informative for us here in the USA. I remember back during the first Gulf War reading about the precautions Israeli citizens were to take and thinking, "masking tape?" Your life is going to depend on masking tape?

Elaine Dale said...

How dreadful. Of course another "g" is at the heart of this - government(s). Wishing you and your well.

Pietro said...

Terrible, indeed.
Have a nice evening!

Pat said...

Oh, Dina! This is so sad, on at least two counts: one, that the situation there is such that gas masks have to be issued at all; two, that the masks you think/hope would protect you in a disaster probably would not (bureauocracy, greed, and someone in government accepting faulty materials). "G" could also stand for Graft; I wouldn't be surprised is money changed hands under the table when these faulty masks were delivered.

Sad, sad, sad! I hope you NEVER again have to put on a gas mask.

Sylvia K said...

It is hard to read of the horror, the terror, but we need to read, to hear and to listen and take heed and hopefully prevent any more of this. My heart goes out to you and to your family and, believe me, I can understand your anger and frustration! Thank you for sharing it with the rest of us.
Like Pat, I hope you never again have reason to put on a gas mask.

Mara said...

You only ever hear the "official" reports in the newspaper etc. It's really nice to hear the other side, the normal side, the human side! I hope they resolve the whole thing about the gasmasks very very soon!

richies said...

It is a sad comment on the state of things in the world when Gas Masks are even a topic that has to be considered.

An Arkies Musings

Babooshka said...

I cannot comprehend living under such circumstance where a gas mask was required and an inadequate one at that. Absolutely right to post this.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Looks to me like your so sick of that mask you threw it out the window.

photowannabe said...

I remember reading about the scud missles but had never heard a first-hand account before. Frightening and the gas masks really sound scary instead of giving safety and peace of mind.

Life with Kaishon said...

Oh no! I hope that you do not have to wear one any time soon! I will pray PEACE for you and your family! Always a delight to stop in and see you!

Christy said...

I remember stories like this circulating here in the US after the attacks on 9/11. I am sorry that you have actually had to go through these times. I hope that we never have to over here. And my prayer is that things will get better over there. Thanks for sharing.

Suzanne said...

The reality is startling to be sure. I have a post early on from my time in Israel. Someone came to my door collecting my gas mask. I couldn't believe what he was asking and I kept telling him that my apartment was all gas, not electric. My mind just couldn't compute. We surmised that I didn't have one and he wen on his way.

bennie and patsy said...

I would not like that at all. Come on back to Arkansas Dina.
Patsy

Louise said...

I wish every American could read your blog to know the realities of life and war are real in other places.

Carol said...

Dina, I do remember when the scud missiles were fired on Israel; but I had never heard anyone's personal story. It makes me sad and angry at the same time. Thank you for sharing.

Kay said...

I remember us worrying over here, too about getting a gas mask or window ladders in case we're in a high building. How quickly I've forgotten. The world is still such a scary place. Are you sure you don't want to move to Australia? I know a couple of grandsons who would love it!

Tumblewords: said...

Oh, how horrible - I think we trust the governments to do the right thing, and they often don't even come close. Excellent reminder...

Hope said...

Oh my, this is so sad, indeed.

spacedlaw said...

Yickes. That's bad news. A good G but still not a nice one.

Deslilas said...

G for "guerre" or war.
Some years ago I had a poster in my room "War is unhealthy for children and other living things".

Catherine said...

I realize that many of us have no idea of what is your day-to-day life, Dina. How it must be stressful to live in these conditions in a so wonderful country.
How can State disregards civilian security at that point ?

Jay said...

That makes me very angry. I suppose it's a case of 'only those who can afford to order themselves new, efficient gas masks at their own expense will survive'.

No doubt ALL the government ministers and military personnel will already have these new, efficient gas masks. Bah!

Dottie Jo said...

I can't imagine living under these circumstances. One of my biggest fears after September 11th was that my family would be seperated if anything happened, but thankfully it never transpired. It must be awful to have tom live with this fear on a daily basis. Take care, and hopefully the "heads of state" will get their acts together and get something useful to you soon.

Reader Wil said...

How terrible to live under these conditions! Oh, I wish so much that this war is going to end.

TSannie said...

So frightening what is supposed to protect you could actually harm you instead.

A disturbing G, but one that needs to be heard about. Thank you for the education. It's appreciated.

May safeness surround you and yours always.

Sherrie said...

Hi!
Very informative "G" post! I don't think I would want one of their gas masks if they couldn't approve them. Someone needs to pay attention to what they are suppose to be doing. Have a great day!!

Sherrie

ramblingwoods.com said...

Oh dear...this is the reality of today's world..but I don't know how everyone copes day to day. Please stay safe Dina..

Powell River Books said...

It is hard to imagine how hard life is under those circumstances. You read about it in the news and it seems so far away. I read about it your post and it becomes personal. Thank you for sharing. - Margy

Mediterranean kiwi said...

i think this kind of thing should be posted - life is not all about smiling day in day out as if nothing perturbs you (because that's not true, indeed something does perturb all of us at some time or other)

Meead S. said...

Dina, thanks for posting this, although this is really sad. Thankfully and fortunately, it seems none of your readers have ever used a gas mask. But we've used them in Iran, before your experience in 1991. I was only three years old and I don't remember well. I can only remember one short memory.

Do you remember when Iraq invaded Iran? Saddam Hussein attacked Iran in 1980 and the war lasted for 8 years. We were living in Tehran. The city was bombarded by Iraqi war flights several times. Early in the conflict, Iraq began to employ mustard gas and tabun delivered by bombs dropped from airplanes. According to Iraqi documents, assistance in developing chemical weapons was obtained from firms in many countries including all those countries which I'm sure you may guess who they were.

The only memory that I remember is very similar to yours. You are probably familiar with 'war red alarm'. The sound of the red alarm was been hearing and it was the time to escape to shelters or undergrounds. All dark; no light; and suddenly BOOOOOM! All the windows were broken and a building in the back street was hit by a bomb. Maybe the reason that I remember this is that I was so scared. I was only a little kid!

The war ended in 1988. Soon after that, Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1991 and also fired some missiles into Israel and you told us the rest of the story. Those missiles were the remaining ones that were used against us.

I hope none of us will use those gas masks again, never!

Dina said...

Dear reader-friends, thank you for all you have shared in these comments.

Dear Meead, thank you very much for writing this painful memory and adding to the personal histories we both talk about. Isn't it ironic that you and I have such a dreadful thing in common.
Yes, I remember Israel TV's in-depth coverage of the long Iran-Iraq war. And even now I can recall the incredible scenes of Kurdish families in Halabja horribly dead from Saddam's chemical bombs. He killed thousands of his own Iraqi Kurdish citizens in one day in 1988. This is what I feared awaited us in the Gulf War soon after, in 1991.
Now the specter of a possible future mushroom cloud looms over us. Even worse.
Let us all pray for some change for the better and soon.
Thanks for writing, Meead.

Petrea said...

You miss a couple of days, you miss something really special.

I don't have an experience like this. I hope I never do. I remember my father and grandfather building a bomb shelter in our basement, and my father teaching me the route home from school in case we were bombed during the "Cuban Missile Crisis." We were not bombed.

Meead, Dina, your words move me. This is one reason I love the internet so much. Our governments wield power, fight each other, and make us feel powerless when their meaningless battles affect us so absolutely. But we have our own power - the power to be friends.

Meead S. said...

Thank you Dina and Petrea. We do have our own power to be friends. Yes, we do indeed!

Dina, never think about 'a possible future mushroom cloud looms over yourself.' This will never definitely happen to you and your people.

Petrea said...

Bless you, Meead. I hope you're right. I hope a mushroom cloud will never loom over anyone again, ever.