Israeli demand for gas masks increases as tensions mount over possible Syrian attack

Large crowds of Israelis have lined up at gas-mask distribution centers across the country in anticipation of a possible Syrian attack on Israel.

The U.S. has signaled that it will soon strike Syria in response to its alleged use of chemical weapons last week. That has raised speculation that Syria might retaliate with an attack on Israel, a close U.S. ally.

Maya Avishai of the Israeli postal service, which oversees gas mask distribution, says demand has tripled in recent days. She says about five million Israelis, roughly 60 percent of the population, now have gas masks.

Israel's Channel 2 TV showed a large crowd at a Tel Aviv distribution center on Wednesday, and said people were waiting for hours to collect their free gas masks.