IDF to Experiment With Informing the Public via Text Messages

The IDF will soon begin sending real-time updates on its activity to Israelis' cellular telephones via text message. A pilot project will be launched in the next few days.

A wide range of information will be available to subscribers, including real-time information on missile launches, IDF operations overseas and new appointments in the army. Initially, the service will be financed by the IDF, but later, subscribers may be asked to pay for it. A final decision on that issue has not yet been made.

The pilot will involve tens of thousands of soldiers who subscribe to the MIRS cellular service. After a few months, it will be expanded to all the cell phone companies, though only to people who choose to subscribe.

The new service is the brainchild of IDF Spokesman Avi Benayahu, who argued that much of the public is very interested in such information - especially during wartime or other crises, but also when things are calmer. He also thinks it will improve the IDF's connection with the citizenry. In addition, the IDF Spokesman's Office said, it will bypass Israelis' dependence on the mainstream media for army news. For that reason, they do not expect it to be welcomed by the media.

"We have to remember that the Israeli public is the IDF's shareholder," Benayahu said. "We have an obligation to report to it, credibly and on our own initiative, about what we're doing with its money and its children. We're constantly looking for ways to do so - obviously, without harming field security." The new initiative is part of a wider IDF effort to expand its presence across online media platforms.