Israel tests SMS missile alerts as Iran chatter grows
JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
The Israeli army on Sunday began testing a nationwide SMS system for warning the public of an imminent missile attack as chatter over a possible strike on Iran dominated the Israeli press headlines.
With front page stories in two papers suggesting Tehran had made progress towards the manufacture and assembly of a nuclear warhead, Israel's Home Front Command began final tests of a public warning system which is expected to be operational by September.
"The Home Front Command will today start conducting nationwide testing of the 'Personal Message' alert system, which will end on Thursday," said a statement indicating that SMS texts in Hebrew, Arabic, English and Russian would be sent to subscribers on Israel's three main networks: Cellcom, Pelephone and Orange.
The idea is that the SMS system could be used to warn the population of an imminent missile attack by Iran or Lebanon's Hezbollah militia, which could become a reality if Israel decides to mount a pre-emptive military strike on nuclear facilities in Iran.
Israel believes the Islamic republic is trying to develop a military nuclear capability under the guise of its civilian programme which it says would pose an existential threat to the Jewish state.
In recent days, talk of a possible strike on Iran has dominated the headlines, largely coming from unsourced officials quoting intelligence reports, none of which it was possible to verify.
"Iran has made progress toward nuclear warhead," was the headline in the Haaretz newspaper.