Globe Briefs February 25

Globe Briefs February 25

IDF releases attack-warning app

The Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command has released a mobile application to warn Israelis of local security threats.

The application, detailed in a call with reporters Monday, was developed by a staff of some 15 people in the Home Front Command, which oversees civilian preparedness. It was launched this month on Android and Apple devices.

Called Home Front Command, the application aims to improve on several civilian-developed counterparts that alert Israelis to the warning sirens that blare ahead of incoming missiles. Those applications gained popularity during the 2014 war in Gaza, but alert users to every siren across the country.

The IDF’s alternative will track users based on their GPS location and alert them only to threats in their immediate area. It will cover a range of emergencies — from earthquakes to terror attacks to incoming rockets. In addition to warning users of the threat, the application will provide instructions on how to respond. It will be available in four languages — Hebrew, English, Arabic and Russian — though it will not be available for download outside Israel.

In addition to the sirens spread throughout the country, the Home Front Command sends text message warnings to Israelis’ phones and broadcasts them on the TV and radio. Lt. Col. Shlomi Maman, the Home Front Command’s alert branch commander, said the army wants to localize warnings as much as possible — even by neighborhood — so as to avoid needlessly worrying civilians.

“We view a warning that reaches a citizen who didn’t need to receive it just like someone who needed to receive [a warning] and did not,” Maman said in the briefing. “This project is to make it more selective.”

Hundreds of anti-Israel posters hung in London subways

Hundreds of posters in support of the Palestinians and calling Israel an apartheid state were hung in London’s Underground subway system.

The ads were being removed Monday, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Commuters first saw the signs during that morning’s commute after they were put up overnight.

Transport for London, which runs the subway system, told the London-based Jewish Chronicle that the ads were “unauthorized acts of vandalism” and would be taken down.

London Palestine Action, a pro-Palestinian activist group, claimed responsibility for the ads, saying they are part of the group’s Israeli Apartheid Week campaign.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed Israel’s Foreign Ministry Director Dore Gold, who is in London for talks with his British counterpart, to demand the immediate removal of the ads.

Some of the ads call the BBC’s coverage of the Israel-Palestinian conflict biased toward Israel, while others are emblazoned with the headline “Apartheid is Great Britain.” The posters also claim that British-made arms were used to “massacre” Palestinians during Israel’s 2014 Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in Gaza.

Canadian Parliament officially condemns BDS

Canada’s Parliament passed a motion formally condemning the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

The motion passed Monday in a 229-51 vote, CIJ News reported. Introduced last week by members of the opposition Conservative Party, the motion won support from the ruling Liberal Party as well.

It calls on the Canadian government to “condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.”

In addition, the motion notes Canada and Israel’s “long history of friendship as well as economic and diplomatic relations.” The motion says the BDS movement “promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel.”

Speaking in favor of the motion last week, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion said “The world will win nothing for boycotting Israel but depriving itself of the talents of its inventiveness.”

Canadian Jewish groups have praised the motion. In a statement last week, Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said, according to the European Jewish Press, “The boycott movement does not contribute to peace and is not pro-Palestinian. It is discrimination based on nationality, and it harms both Israelis and Palestinians alike by driving the two sides further apart. The BDS movement is a fringe movement and is outside genuine peace efforts.”

Responding to the vote in a news release, the National Council on Canada Arab Relations said the anti-BDS motion goes “against the spirit of the Freedom of Speech, a right enshrined in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

The group described BDS as a “nonviolent campaign that supports proven methods of conscientious objection to encourage Israel to respect international law.”