Bill: Enable Citizens to Reach MDA, Police Via SMS

October 20, 2015  

Deputy Knesset Speaker MK Nurit Koren proposed a bill before the Knesset Tuesday which would introduce a government-funded service for citizens to send emergency texts (SMS messages) to Magen David Adom (MDA) and the police. 

Koren asked Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, and the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, to ratify the bill into law as soon as possible given the current security situation. 

Under the law, emergency service hotlines will enable a system wherein they can receive text messages from any Israeli citizen in the event of a terror attack or other emergency, without that citizen having to make a call. (Editor’s note: this likely would be through an app.) 

The hotline can then answer the call in an text message to obtain all the information needed such as the source of threat or the emergency, the location, and then provide guidelines to the caller in real-time. 

Currently, some emergency centers already have similar systems in place for the deaf community. 

“Now, when the security situation is precarious, is when the legislative system should be harnessed to approve a bill that saves lives,” Koren said.

Among the rationales for the bill include the fact that police hotlines are already overwhelmed, with at least one major municipality – Tel Aviv – receiving as many as 30,000 calls per day.

Long wait times have killed before, as well: in June 2014, three Israeli teenagers – Gilad Sha’er, Eyal Yifrach, and Naftali Frankel – were murdered after their whispered emergency call to the police while in captivity was dismissed as a prank. 

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