Shin Bet: We Didn't Send Out Warning Message

In an unusual move, the Shin Bet said that text messages sent out in its name were attempts to sow panic among Israelis.

Yaakov Levi,

Texting (illustration)
Texting (illustration)

In an unusual move, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Service) announced that text messages sent out Sunday evening in the organization's name were fake and should be ignored. The text message is one of a series that “hostile groups” have been sending out since last week in order to rattle Israeli civilians, the organization said.

Sunday's text message, supposedly from the Shin Bet, said that “a suicide bomber has sneaked into Tel Aviv and central Israel, and is targeting shelters. Beware of strangers in shelters.” The organization denied sending out the message, adding that all official communications come from the Homefront Security Ministry.

Messages designed to sow fear among Israelis have been appearing in SMS texts, Whatsapp groups, Facebook pages, and other social media. Last Wednesday, a message purportedly from Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, said that “a rocket from Gaza hit a petrochemical plant in Haifa, huge fire, possible chemical leak, advised to evacuate Haifa.” That message was followed up by one that read “Just now – 25 Israelis killed in missile hit Haifa.”

The newspaper denied sending out the messages. The Shin Bet said that Israelis should delete these suspicious messages, because many of them are likely to contain viruses and other malware.