In 1991, during the Gulf War, more than forty Scud missiles were fired at Israel. At the time, the entire country was included in one early warning zone, so millions of people were warned of the incoming rockets, even though most of them lived in areas that were not threatened.
Today there are more than 1,700 distinct zones in Israel that enables the country to warn only the communities under direct threat. It is the latest development in Israel’s early warning technology and worked effectively during the latest round of fighting with Gaza.
In Operation Black Belt, Israel struck a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander on November 12, leading to two days of rocket fire by the PIJ against Israel. More than 400 rockets were fired, reaching as far north as the outskirts of Tel Aviv, around 80 km away.
These are just some of the 2,600 rockets that have been fired from Gaza since March 2018.
Although dozens of Israelis were lightly injured in the recent round of violence, the system of sirens across the country helped guide people to shelters while enabling Israel’s air defense to intercept the projectiles. The sirens and alerts are often called “red alerts” and are linked to the IDF’s Home Front Command, which has become increasingly data and tech savvy.
This is based on a complex calculus.
Lt. Col. Idan Ochman, head of Israel’s systems development for J6—or Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence—deals with the latest technologies Israel is pioneering. He says that since the 1990s, Israel has continued to make its alarms more precise so only those who might be under rocket fire directly are sent to shelters. The latest version has been online for several months.