IDF loses their Waze, again

Clashes broke out in Qalandia, south of Ramallah in the West Bank on Sunday after an IDF prison bus accidentally entered the camp.

It is said the IDF personnel were relying on the navigation app, Waze, which doesn’t distinguish Area A and C in the West Bank.

Reports tell of security forces firing live rounds and tear gas into the crowd at Qalandia to help clear the exit for the IDF vehicle.

Video footage taken by residents was released on social media, showing what appeared to be an IDF bus attempting to flee, whilst being hit by stones.

Border guards arrested three Palestinians that are suspected of taking part in the clashes.

Two soldiers were treated at the scene while an injured officer was transferred to hospital.

The IDF has said it is investigating why the bus entered the Qalandia refugee camp.

In recent years, several clashes have occurred when both Israeli military and civilian vehicles have accidentally entered Palestinian towns and cities.

These incidents have occasionally ended with injuries and fatalities.

Many of these incidents have been attributed to IDF soldiers relying on the Google owned, Israeli built navigation app, Waze, instead of learning the correct route as required by military protocol.

In 2015 alone, the IDF’s own data shows that the Palestinian Authority returned 13 soldiers and 550 civilians to Israel after they had mistakenly entered Area A, under full Palestinian control.

The IDF has previously taken disciplinary action against soldiers who relied on Waze, and for a time prohibited use of the the app entirely.

The problem is so widespread that last year Israeli army officers from the West Bank provided the company with a field tour so that developers could upgrade its navigations, to better warn Israeli drivers in the West Bank against accidently entering Area A.

Speaking about a similar event in February, a military source, who spoke anonymously said this happens frequently.

It still happens about once a week, sometimes it is soldiers, sometimes Israeli civilians, sometimes they are using Waze, sometimes they just end up in these areas by mistake, the source said in a statement.

Two years ago, a similar incident prompted a firefight, also at the Qalandia refugee camp.

Two soldiers had entered the area by mistake, and an Israeli force was sent to rescue them.

A Palestinian was shot dead in the operation.

Israeli defence minister at the time Moshe Ya’alon, spoke of the dangers of relying on technology.

The soldiers were apparently using Waze I learned ages ago the importance of navigating with the aid of a real map, and mainly to know the surrounding area and not to rely too heavily on technology which can lead the user astray, Ya’alon said.

Waze does not differentiate between areas of the West Bank’s political map once the safe mode is disabled, making it dangerous for both Israelis and Palestinians.

The West Bank is a complex web of Israeli military checkpoints and crossings, encompassing Palestinian ruled ‘Area A’ – that Israelis may not enter – and Israeli controlled ‘Area C’ -comprising of illegal Jewish settlements where Palestinians are prevented from entering without permits.

Waze also often mistakes Palestinian and Israeli areas which may have the same, or similar, names.

Source: Palestine Monitor