Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bringing Terror to Your Phone

I just got a new phone...it's a Smartphone, cheap and powerful enough to be fun. The first thing I did was go the App store and download a bunch of really fun (and free) applications. I downloaded one that I had heard about and briefly tried out a few months ago.

This time, it worked. It terrified me, froze me in place. What it does is broadcast live the "Color Red" announcements alerting an area to an incoming missile. I was sitting quietly at my desk when I heard a muffled, strange sound. I realized it was coming from my phone.

I picked up the phone and held it as I listened, "Tzeva Adom. Tzeva Adom. Tzeva Adom." It took me a couple of seconds to realize it was the alert for an incoming missile. And sure enough, seconds later, it came through that a rocket had landed in an open field near Hof Ashkelon.

Why do you have that? My daughter asked me. It's one of those strange things - the need to know in as close to real time what is happening to people in this country. If they are awakened in the middle of the night; startled in the middle of the day, what right do I have to live in quiet and calm?

No, my terror didn't help anyone - and it wasn't really "terror" because even as my mind grasped and translated the words, not for a moment did I think the missile was coming here.

It's a strange feeling to known that a missile is flying towards your country and there is nothing you can do about it. You feel like there is something you should be doing but, of course, there is nothing.

The seconds pass; the missile lands; no injuries are confirmed...and left holding my phone. In southern Israel, tens of thousands of Israelis didn't have the luxury of freezing, as I did. Their "Tzeva Adom. Tzeva Adom. Tzeva Adom. Tzeva Adom...." announcement meant they had to run to shelter with mere seconds making the difference between shelter and tragedy.

It's a horrible application (and totally brilliant)...and I know that so long as there is an Israeli within rocket fire range, I won't uninstall it because it is one of the most important apps in the Android world. There are frivolous ones, silly ones, helpful ones - this one is none of those.

It is an application that broadcasts those agonizing seconds, brings terror to your phone in a way few other things can.

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