Bill: Tougher fines for emergency hotline pranks

Terror wave prompting push to enforce laws against false emergency calls; proposals could change entire emergency hotline system.

Tova Dvorin,

Illustrative: IDF call center
Illustrative: IDF call center
Flash90

Thousands of harassment and prank calls are made each month to the emergency hotlines of the Israel Police and Magen David Adom (MDA) - and the Knesset is moving to stop the phenomenon. 

One in five calls made to the Police's 100 hotline turn out to be false, police revealed Friday, for a total of about two million calls per year; one in four calls to MDA do not deal with emergency situations at all. 

In both cases, callers usually use a blocking service to prevent emergency services for tracking the call, preventing the authorities from arresting offenders. 

As a result, while the law regarding false emergency calls already sets a three-year maximum prison sentence for offenders, they are rarely enforced in practice. 

In light of the recent terror wave, MKs Omar Bar-Lev (Zionist Union) and Merav Michaeli (Zionist Union) proposed a bill to the Knesset this week adding a 14,500 shekel ($3,731) fine for false emergency calls, Channel 2 reports Friday; harassment of emergency services would yield a 75,000 shekel ($19,300) fine. 

The bill has passed its first reading. While MKs are hopeful that the law, if ratified, will curb the phenomenon entirely, police sources have expressed concern over the time investment needed to file what could amount to thousands of indictments per year. 

Emergency services overhaul

The move is one of several recent measures designed to relieve the pressure placed on emergency services due to the terror wave on Israelis citizens, while also ensuring that terror victims can receive help faster. 

Last month, the police revealed to the press that its hotlines receive some 30,000 calls daily, overwhelming the Moked 100 service.

To relieve part of that burden, commanders have urged the public not to make hotline calls based on rumor - and certainly not to report false claims. 

Days later, Knesset Speaker MK Nurit Koren proposed a bill introducing an emergency services SMS service for public use, enabling victims to reach out to the police or MDA without needing to physically make a call. 




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