Home Front Command begins SMS alert experiment

"Personal Message" system can deliver area-specific warnings based on the projection of incoming trajectory of rocket, missile.

August 12, 2012 01:13
1 minute read.
Texting cellphone 311

Texting cellphone 311. (photo credit: Reuters)


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The IDF Home Front Command will begin a nationwide experiment on Sunday in which it will send mock text messages to cellphones warning of incoming missile attacks. The experiment will last until Thursday.

Called “Personal Message,” the alert system has been under development for several years. It can deliver area-specific warnings based on the projection of an incoming trajectory of a rocket or missile.

During the test, members of the public receive the following message, “The Home Front Command, checking cellular alert system,” followed by a number.

Messages will be sent in Hebrew, Arabic, English and Russian. Home Front Command officials say the messages will be directed on the basis of geographical areas, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

On Sunday and Monday, residents of Ramle will receive the messages, while residents of Haifa, Tel Aviv, Acre, Nahariya, Karmiel, Safed, Netanya, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and other cities will do so on Tuesday.

Kiryat Shmona, Rishon Lezion, Rehovot, Yavne, Dimona and other cities will receive messages on Wednesday, while Jerusalemites and residents of Modi’in, Bet Shemesh, Mevaseret Zion and other areas can expect them on Thursday.

The IDF has been working on integrating the cellphone alert system into its early-warning program – mostly based on air-raid sirens – but has encountered resistance from several cellular companies. The carriers do not want to enable their phones to receive the warnings, which come in the form of a text message.

“This will improve our ability to issue warnings just to people who are inside a specific area that is going to be hit by missiles,” a Home Front officer explained.

The Home Front Command said Saturday that members of the public who do not wish to receive the service can ask their cellphone operators to disconnect from it.

The system is due to become operational this month.

Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.

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