Civilians to receive SMS during civil defense drill

The IDF Home Front Command will send text messages to civilians during a rocket attack exercise in June.

April 28, 2011 04:02
1 minute read.
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home front SMS 311. (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)

The IDF Home Front Command will launch its annual civil defense drill this June.

Two air raid sirens will sound on June 22, and some civilians will receive a mock text message on their cell phones warning them of an incoming rocket attack.

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The text message is part of a new cell phone alert system that can deliver area-specific warnings based on the projection of an incoming rocket’s trajectory.

The exercise, called Turning Point 5, will be held from June 19 to June 23, and will simulate hundreds of rocket attacks on Israel from multiple fronts.

In 2010, during the Turning Point 4 exercise, some 50 percent of the population actively drilled moving into safe zones during the air raid siren, a figure emergency planners say is impressive. The planners hope more will take part this year.

The drill will see 80 local authorities intensively respond to emergency scenarios during the five-day drill, Home Front Command chief Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan and Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i said on Wednesday.

“There is no parallel to this in the world,” Vilna’i said of the exercise. He added that the security cabinet would assess some of the scenarios introduced during the exercise, and the responses to them.

Planning officials said haredi and Arab communities remained the least prepared for mass rocket attack scenarios, adding that they would be working closely with those communities to narrow these gaps.

For the first time, the Home Front Command will also test a new radio network that links its officials directly to police and other emergency responders.

Television ads showing families hearing an air raid siren and moving into a safe zone selected ahead of time will soon appear, together with radio ads and bus posters.

Vilna’i said the Israeli public was more than capable of being encouraged to think about emergency preparedness without going into a panic.

Addressing the issue of gas mask distribution, Golan said that the system of allocating the protection kits to civilians, which uses the Israel Postal Company and the private Eltel company, overcame “initial hiccups” and is now working efficiently.

“The level of service is very good. We’ve had no complaints recently,” Golan said.

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