It pays to be the star of a reality show. Israelis who flocked to a Tel Aviv gas mask distribution site on Monday were floored when the distribution of protective kits was halted to allow a camera crew to film a scene for a reality show.
Daniela Hayoum arrived at a Tel Aviv post office at 7 a.m. and took a number. The line of people waiting for gas masks was long and Hayoum stepped away to run errands. She returned in the afternoon to find hundreds of Israelis crowding under a hot sun on the building’s wide steps, some holding umbrellas and others food.
Thousands of Israelis are lining up for gas masks or ordering them by phone, spurred on by fears that any Western military response to last week's alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria could ensnare their own country in war.
Russia has told the Syrian government clearly that it is unacceptable to threaten to use chemical weapons, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday in its strongest condemnation of a recent warning by a Syrian official.
"Hi, uh, I need to prepare for the war," I awkwardly told the clerk at the Tel Aviv branch of Home Center. Somewhere in my tree-lined Northern Califonia brain, I expected him to have no idea what I was talking about. Instead, he efficiently led me to a section replete with full body chemical protection gear, fire extinguishers, battery-operated radios and lights, a miniature Port-o-Potty for the sealed-off room of choice in one's apartment and what seemed like miles and miles of plastic and tape for covering windows, doors and every other conceivable means of ventilation. Forget chemical weapons. I could just imagine myself suffocating from no oxygen.
There was such a crush of people at the gas-mask distribution center in Tel Aviv's Central Bus Station this week that a portable fence had to be set up at the doorway -- just to keep people from pushing their way in.