Dozens of Israelis crowded in front of a storefront at a Jerusalem shopping mall yesterday to pick up new gas masks, part of civil defense preparations in case the military strikes Iran and the Islamic Republic or its allies retaliate.
“Our leaders seem to have gotten very hawkish in their speeches and this time it seems they mean what they say,” said Yoram Lands, 68, a professor of business administration, who was picking up new masks for himself and his wife at a distribution center in the mall.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Aug. 1 that time “is running out” for a peaceful solution to Iran’s atomic program. The Tel Aviv-based Haaretz newspaper reported Aug. 10 that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are considering bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities before U.S. elections on Nov. 6. Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev said government policy is not to comment on media speculation.“It seems that Netanyahu and Barak are making a special effort now to prepare the Israeli public for an attack on Iran,” said Shlomo Brom, a former commander of the army’s Strategic Planning Division, who said that any strike could come within the next six months. In the past, rhetoric was directed at pushing the international community to take stronger action against Iran, said Brom, a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.