Date: 05/01/2009, 5:09 PM     Author: Arnon Ben Dror

The Information Center of the Home Front Command, located in Ramle, is operating 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. There are 70 specialists working feverishly at all times, providing information to callers. The Information Center has received about a hundred thousand phone calls since the beginning of the operation in Gaza. A family living in a caravan that doesn’t have a protective shelter for her and her daughter; a father supporting his family alone and must continue to go to work; a disabled man paralyzed and unable to move his legs and is unable to get to a shelter in time– these are just a few examples of issues that the receptionists are dealing with. They need to give quick and helpful answers to each of the callers. The especially difficult calls from people that are suffering from anxiety, fear, or shock are transferred to senior commanders. These commanders have years of experience in guiding and assisting the population in times of emergency.

The receptionists, a portion of them in reserve duty and a portion of them in mandatory service, go through training that emphasizes the emotional aspects of dealing with the calls that they receive. The shifts are long. Before the absorption of reserve soldiers that took place last Friday (Jan. 2), the receptionists had even worked up to 14 hours each even though a normal shift is generally for 8 hours. For the most part, the most serious phone calls that the receptionists deal with are coming from residents located within range of Hamas missile attacks. These calls are coming from all over Israel, and they come from both the Center and the North. Everyone is looking for a reliable and source of information that will have answers to their questions, and perhaps even the ability to put them at ease.

On Wednesday (Dec. 31), when the first missile hit Beer Sheba, the hotline was flooded with calls. On that day, there were no less than 24,000 calls made to the telephone service center, mostly from residents who suddenly found themselves under attack by missiles and were unsure as to what to do. The receptionists responded to the callers skillfully, as they explained to them the Home Front Command procedures and successfully calmed the callers down. “Thanks to the work of the receptionists, there is some serenity amongst the residents within range of missiles. They are providing answers to the public, according to what is expected of them,” says Brigadier General Orna Barbivai, Chief of Staff of the Human Resources Directorate, who paid a visit yesterday (Jan. 4) to the Information Center.

On Thursday evening (Jan. 1), the Home Front Command recruited 120 receptionists. Until this day, soldiers of the Home Front Command currently completing their mandatory service and reinforcing forces from the Intelligence Corps training base, Bahad 15, are now located in the Information Center of the Home Front Command base in Ramle. The reserve duty receptionists are bringing with them additional value to the work. “It is easier for the reserve duty soldiers to have empathy for a mother with four children, for example, than soldiers for young soldiers with less life experience,” says Iris Yeger, a senior commander of the Information Center. Indeed, the reserve soldiers enlisted with the desire to fulfill the important role that they were requested to fulfill. They are aware of their own strength and ability to help those in need.