No Gas Masks For People With Disabilities
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 2, 2003
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL--As many as 25,000 Israelis with developmental and other disabilities have no protection from biological or chemical attacks.
According to an article in the independent newspaper Ha'aretz, the Israeli government has not supplied defense kits with gas masks for people -- including thousands of children -- that have certain disabilities.
People that do not have gas masks are expected to find shelter in "protected spaces" -- rooms with special filter systems that can be turned on in an emergency. This could be a particular problem for the estimated 8,000 people who live in institutions, most of which have no such "protected spaces."
The Home Front Command and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs apparently have been aware of the problem for years.
In fact, the official emergency civil defense guidelines released two years ago state in bold letters: "Do not strap gas masks on people with developmental disabilities, as they could endanger their lives."
The government has some specially designed kits, but not enough to cover the need. Even so, it is not distributing the ones that have been produced, nor is it providing instructions to the families of people with developmental disabilities.