The threat of rocket attacks have always been a part of Israeli history. Since the first massive missile strike against Israel during the Gulf War in 1991, Israelis live under a constant threat of rocket attack.

Since 2001, nearly 13,000 rockets and mortars, an average of 3 attacks every single day, hit Israel, having been fired from Gaza. Since 1951, Israeli law has insisted that all residential or commercial properties be fitted with shelters. The IDF (Zahal) Home Front Command makes sure that Israelis have as much time as possible to find cover before a rocket hits — and recently, a new invention has changed the playing field of alarm systems.

Beginning last week, subscribers to major Israeli cell phone networks received a a text message in Hebrew, Arabic, English and Russian: “The Home Front Command, checking cellular alert system,” followed by a serial number.

Direct Missile Alarm — Straight to Your Phone

Israel has one of the highest percentages of cell phone penetration in the world. (Photo: Nir Kafri)

It was the first public test of the IDF (Zahal)’s new “Personal Message” early-warning text message alert system.

Developed for the IDF (Zahal)’s Home Front Command by eVigilo and Ericsson, the alert system will deliver location-specific warnings based on the trajectory of a rocket or missile. The text messages are intended to supplement the air raid signals that have been in place across the country for decades and will operate in conjunction with the IDF (Zahal)’s Iron Dome defense system.

Direct Missile Alarm — Straight to Your Phone

“Personal Message”, together with the “Iron Dome” system, are just a few of the ways the IDF (Zahal) protects Israel’s citizens from rocket attacks.

The IDF (Zahal) has been testing the system for several months in order to see if it has any vulnerabilities to hackers. “If someone hacked the system and could stop it from operating in an emergency or the reverse – operate it incessantly – it could be very dangerous,” a Home Front Command officer said. “We must be immune to such hazards.”

The system’s goal will be to help save lives in case of emergencies by giving Israelis as much time as possible to locate the closest bomb shelter.