Following protests that the IDF Home Front Command Web site neglected to publish vital safety information in English, a Home Front Command spokesman vowed on Tuesday that the English site would be revamped by Wednesday morning.
The Home Front Command's Hebrew site (www1.idf.il/OREF/site/he/) is updated minute by minute with information on fallen Katyusha rockets, safety instructions to the public and emergency phone numbers in municipalities under fire. The site contains a link to an outdated English version that, as of late Tuesday, contained no news updates and apparently had not been updated since the hostilities in Gaza and Lebanon began.
Alerted to the problem by The Jerusalem Post, Home Front Command spokesman Pvt. Liad Vaknin said that the command's information division would start updating the site in English in the morning.
"Thank you for calling our attention to the matter, so the English-speaking public will no longer have to suffer," Vaknin said.
Prior to Vaknin's vow, a group of English-speaking editors, translators and consultants began a civilian volunteer effort to translate the Hebrew Home Front Command site and publish it on a private Web site, www.israelnewsagency.com/israelhomefrontcommandenglish.html.
The effort was started by Joel Leyden, a Ra'anana-based international media consultant specializing in crisis communications management. He put out an emergency call on local English listserves and newsgroups on Tuesday, and within two hours five professional editors and translators volunteered. Pending whether the Home Front Command will end up translating its site, Leyden was still looking for more volunteers.
"Many people could interpret the IDF's not communicating to the public at a time of war as the epitome of negligence," Leyden said. "Why are we doing this and not the army? It's something that I don't understand. It may be due to their budget. I am not criticizing the IDF, but it's the only body that has the authority to call up the country's greatest minds because it has reserve service."
Leyden said his site would not contain news extracted from sources other than the Hebrew Home Front Command site. But he said he would add additional emergency information and advice from local psychologists on how to communicate with children, explain the security situation to them and help them cope with the crisis.
The Jerusalem Post also publishes the Home Front Command's instructions to the public on its Web site (www.jpost.com).