fire, rockets, and mortars from surrounding actors have enough range to reach
most major cities in Israel, with those in bordering areas at the highest risk.
Israel employs an air raid siren system that activates in the event of rocket
fire, but sirens don’t always signal incoming fire – they are also used to
commemorate important holidays. This report will help distinguish sirens for
travelers unfamiliar with the area, as well as give important tips on what to
do when you hear a siren, and how you may be able to gain valuable seconds to
get your personnel to safety in case of danger.
ISRAEL’S AIR RAID SIRENS
June 2019, Israel upgraded its air raid alert system to be
city-specific rather than regional, in an effort to minimize unnecessary panic
and forestall message fatigue. The army announced that this upgrade now divides
the country into 1,700 smaller alarm zones, up from the 255 regional alarm
zones used previously.
Over the past year,
Israel experienced an increase in threat of explosions and remote
violence due to terrorism compared to 2016 and 2017. Indirect fire, rockets,
and mortars launched from Gaza and the West Bank have enough range to reach
most major cities in Israel, with those in border areas at the highest risk. (There is also the possibility of rocket
fire from Lebanon, primarily by Hizb’allah, but there have only been a small
number of such incidents in the last dozen years.)
the year following March 2018 when the weekly “March of the Return” protests began
in Gaza, Israel has seen over 2,000 violent incidents along the border. These
include 1,233 rocket and mortar launches, 18 incidents of gunfire, 94 IED
incidents, 600 Molotov cocktails, and 152 arson/airborne object incidents in
areas near Israel’s fence with Gaza as reported by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
current State Department Travel Advisory for Israel, including Jerusalem, is
Level 2, indicating travelers should exercise increased caution due to terrorism. There is a higher
advisory level in the West Bank, where the Level 3 indicates travelers should reconsider
their necessity to travel due to terrorism and the potential for violent civil
unrest and armed conflict. The State Department urges travelers not to travel
to Gaza, which it places at Level 4 due to terrorism, civil unrest, and armed
TYPES OF SIRENS
two types of sirens you may hear in Israel. In an effort to decipher them for
travelers unfamiliar with the area, OSAC encourages security managers to share
these differences with staff members on the ground.
Air Raid Sirens (“Az'aka”)
These sirens usually
indicate a missile attack or air raid, and consist of a continuous ascending
and descending tone. These alerts are also called “Red Alert” sirens. (audio clip)
All Clear Signal (“Tzfirat
This is a continuous single-pitch sound that gives
the “all-clear” signal. It also sounds once on Holocaust Remembrance
Day (Yom Hashoah) and twice on the National Memorial Day (Yom Hazikaron).
SAFETY PROCEDURES IN
EVENT OF SIREN:
below for official guidance from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Home Front
Command website. (Some networks may block this website.)
If you are in a building:
Head immediately to
a secure room or a shelter. If there aren't any in the building find a
staircase or an inner room with the least external walls. Close all doors and
If you are outside:
Head immediately to a shelter or
building nearby. If you are in an open area, lie on the ground and cover your
head with your hands.
If you are driving:
Pull over to the side of the road, exit
the vehicle and enter a nearby building or shelter. If you cannot reach a
building or shelter, leave the vehicle, lie on the ground and cover your head
with your hands.
If you are on a bus:
On intercity roads, the driver will pull
over to the side of the road and open the doors. Get out of the bus, bend down
below the line of windows and cover your head with hands.
On city streets, the driver will stop at
the side of the road and open the doors. Passengers should leave if there is a
If you are on a train:
The train driver must slow down the
train to 30 mph for 10 minutes, bend your head under the line of the windows
and cover your head with your hands.
all cases, stay in the protected area for ten minutes after the last siren
and/or red alert on Home Front Command application for your area.
you see a rocket or parts of it on the ground, stay far away and prevent others
from approaching. Notify the Home Front Command immediately by calling: 104.
not linger in the area, as there is a danger of additional rockets landing in
the same location.
FOR MONITORING SIRENS
IDF deploys a multi-touchpoint siren system that broadcasts simultaneously over
radio, TV, and the IDF Home Front Command website and app. Several apps exist
that provide real-time alerts and updates on air raids to your smart phone. The
apps will clarify the nature and location of any sirens. Here are some popular
apps for monitoring air raids in Israel and a summary of their features:
Home Front Command – The only official IDF app, this has
the capability to track users using their GPS location and only notify them of alerts
happening in their area. A recent update allows users to add multiple areas to
receive alerts. Previously, the notification coverage area was limited to three
zones. This app includes written and visual safety resources on what you should
do in the event of an air raid. The app is available in six languages: English,
Arabic, French, German, Hebrew, and Russian. It is available on Apple and
following are popularly-used private third-party apps. The IDF announced it will no longer allow third-party
apps to access the government’s rocket and missile data for alert usage for fear
of misinformation. While the apps remain functional at this time, they often do
not provide real time information due to loss of support from the IDF. As such,
they may be useful for situational awareness of rocket attacks, but may not
activate in time to allow users to respond to an attack.
RedAlert – Available on Google Play and the App
Store, it is available in multiple languages, including English. Users can
click on an alert to see a map of the location.
Red Alert: Israel – This app is also available in English
and includes a radio function so users can listen in to radio coverage about
Rocket Alert! – This app is only available for
Android devices, and includes push notifications and details about whether the
sirens are alerting the presence of rockets or if the signal is “all clear.”
This app is available in Hebrew and English, though the English version
features only rough translations.
Emergency numbers and email contact information:
– 100; email@example.com
Fire and Rescue Services – 102; firstname.lastname@example.org
Bank and Gaza Fire and Rescue Services – 103
Front Command – 104
of Social Affairs and Social Services – 118; email@example.com
more information, contact OSAC’s Middle East & North Africa Team and consult with the following
Crime and Safety Report
Israel Country Page
Department of State Travel Advisory for
Department of State Smart Traveler
– Bureau of Consular Affairs
Home Front Command website.