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Israeli soldiers not allowed off shifts until they enter 50 Palestinian names in database

This article originally appeared on Haaretz, and was reprinted here with permission.

Soldiers posted in the West Bank have recently received instructions from their commanders that in any shift at a checkpoint or guard post they must enter the details and photos of at least 50 Palestinians to the IDF’s “Blue Wolf” tracking system. A soldier who doesn’t make the quota, they were told at the briefing, will not be relieved from duty at the end of their shift and will be forced to remain on duty until they make quota.

The Blue Wolf system, which the army has been using for the past two and a half years, is a database into which the details and photos of Palestinians are uploaded, enabling their tracking and monitoring. The details include, among other things, ID number, age, gender, residence, vehicle license plate numbers, contacts with other people and whether they are allowed to work in Israel.

In November, the Washington Post published an investigation exposing the IDF’s massive use of the system on the Palestinians in the West Bank. According to the expose’, the details of Palestinians unconnected to terrorism, about whom there is no intelligence, are uploaded to the system. The soldiers are required to take the photos of randomly chosen Palestinians with their cell phones, and upload their details to the system. The article noted that according to estimates, the system holds the photos of thousands of Palestinians – including children and the elderly.

A group of combat soldiers who recently began operational deployment in the West Bank protested the quota demand to their commanders. One of the combat soldiers who spoke to Haaretz claimed that the requirement turns the expansion of the database into the soldiers’ main mission, and comes at the expense of protecting the public for which they are stationed. Some of the soldiers feel that this activity, when directed at Palestinians, is against their conscience. After the soldiers’ appeal the commanders responded with a clarification message, reiterating the original directive.

Soldiers required to carry out the mission told Haaretz that the directive stems from a competition in Central Command for the most uploads to the system, and that it is important to the commanders to show their strength to the senior Central Command brass.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said in response that it can‎’t discuss the military’s “operational and intelligence capabilities,” but said it was making “efforts to reduce the harm to the Palestinian population’s fabric of life” are part of its security activity.

This article originally appeared on Haaretz, and was reprinted here with permission.

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