IDF releases attack warning app

Ben Sales

TEL AVIV (JTA) — The Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command has released a mobile application to warn Israelis of local security threats.

The application, detailed in a call with reporters Monday, was developed by a staff of some 15 people in the Home Front Command, which oversees civilian preparedness. It was launched this month on Android and Apple devices.

Called “Home Front Command,” the application aims to improve on several civilian-developed counterparts that alert Israelis to the warning sirens that blare ahead of incoming missiles. Those applications gained popularity during the 2014 war in Gaza, but alert users to every siren across the country.

The IDF’s alternative will track users based on their GPS location, and alert them only to threats in their immediate area. It will cover a range of emergencies — from earthquakes to terror attacks to incoming rockets. In addition to warning users of the threat, the application will provide instructions on how to respond. It will be available in four languages — Hebrew, English, Arabic and Russian — though it will not be available for download outside Israel.

In addition to the sirens spread throughout the country, the Home Front Command sends text message warnings to Israelis’ phones and broadcasts them on the TV and radio. Lt. Col. Shlomi Maman, the Home Front Command’s alert branch commander, said the army wants to localize warnings as much as possible — even by neighborhood — so as to avoid needlessly worrying civilians.

“We view a warning that reaches a citizen who didn’t need to receive it just like someone who needed to receive [a warning] and did not,” Maman said in the briefing. “This project is to make it more selective.”

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