On the ground in Israel: What do we do if Syria does use chemical weapons against us?

August 28, 2013

If the march to claim gas masks was “>with reported hours-long wait times, dwindling supplies and a fresh new storm of international media heckling innocents in line. And the escalating panic can, no doubt, be attributed to widespread reports that President Obama could strike Syria as early as Thursday, and the fact both Syria and Iran have promised to set Israel on fire in return.

Still, on the streets of Tel Aviv, despite the gas-mask clamor, Israelis appear confident and outwardly calm: Startup bros can be spotted scheming in coffee shops per usual; fireworks are popping on the Jaffa horizon; the heroin addicts beneath my apartment continue to not care about anything but heroin.

We all know where our nearest bomb shelters are (“>how it feels to get gassed. And my Israeli friends made fun of me for even asking.

“There is no reason to change daily routines,” Prime Minister Netanyahu “>said Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon.

But what about the “testing us” part?

After a long day of many questions and few answers, the Times of Israel's “>Secret Tel Aviv, a popular English-language Facebook group with over 16,000 members, foreigners posted frantic questions about where to get a gas mask if you're not an Israeli citizen, what to do if a siren goes off while you're at a nightclub and even where to find gas masks for dogs. The Israelis in the group, meanwhile, had a total field day with the jitters of the ex-pats, posting photos of gas masks with bong chambers and inviting foreign chicks to rooftop parties where they'll get a free shot every time a siren goes off.

You see what we're working with here.

So in the absence of any official government advice, I contacted a couple chemical-weapons experts from the U.K. Here's what they had to say.

Gwyn Winfield, editor of “>sarin or “another home-brew organophosphate agent.” If Syrian officials were to send over a similar type of nerve agent to Israel, he said, “they'd most likely send them as a liquid-filled rocket” that would disperse very quickly, due to the agent's high “volatility.”

In this case, according to Winfield, the gas masks being handed out by the Israeli government would “probably” be enough to keep the majority of residents safe from the gas, especially if they were also closed into a sealed room.

However, a less volatile and more severe nerve agent like VX (which Assad “>this gas-mask guide from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. Other than that, I guess we all better just grow a thick Israeli skin before Assad gets around to doing the unthinkable.

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