The newest in rocket defense comfort: Wireless internet (WIFI) will now be available, free of charge, in bomb shelters in northern Israel.
The Israel Defense Ministry's Emergency Authority, acronymed Rachel, is running the new, first-of-its-kind project, which it calls "Bomb Shelters Online." It is designed to improve besieged citizens' accessibility to real-time information and to emergency centers, as well as their ability to communicate with relatives and emergency services when bomb-warning sirens are sounding.
Use of the service will be free from the moment the shelters are officially opened, in the event of rocket warnings.
Rachel ran a pilot Shelters Online program over the past few months in Kiryat Shemonah, Israel's northern-most city, situated along Israel's border with Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon. (Metulah, which is further north, is officially a town, not a city.) The shelters in Kiryat Shemonah, which have seen much use in recent decades in the face of frequent Katyusha and other terrorist attacks, have been refurbished and adapted to wireless internet.
Similar works are now underway in more than 50 other public shelters in northern cities such as Tzfat, Nahariya, Tiberias, Acco and Shlomi, as well as in the Arab town Sakhnin, and even as far south as Migdal HaEmek just north of the Jezreel Valley.
"The internet is taking an increasingly large share of our ability to communicate with the population during emergency situations," Betzalel Treiber of Rachel told Israel Defense News. "This is why we view this project as so crucial."
The shelters selected for the first stage of the project are located in high-risk areas in which apartments are generally not fitted with "protected areas."
Rachel is planning to equip hundreds of other shelters in the north in the coming months, and possibly to expand to other areas of the country as well. The project is expected to cost millions of shekels.