Waze Mishap Leads Israeli Soldiers Into Harm’s Way on West Bank — Again

Two female Israeli soldiers using the navigation app Waze got stranded in a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank — and had to be rescued by Palestinian security forces from an angry mob.

The two soldiers were driving a military vehicle, and relied on Waze, one of the world’s most popular navigation apps, for directions. The app directed them from their Jordan Valley base to Anabta. By the time the two women realized their mistake, they were already in an area controlled by Palestinian forces.

The women called police for help and were told to continue driving towards Israeli territory. A Palestinian police officer offered them directions, but for unknown reasons they ignored him.

Soon after, the soldiers were attacked by a group of Palestinian youths throwing rocks at their car, and breaking one of their windows. Before the situation could escalate, the women were extricated by Palestinian forces and brought to safety.

The incident was first reported by the Hebrew news site, Walla.

It was not the first time that Google’s Waze got IDF soldiers lost in dangerous territory.

In March, Isreali forces shot and killed one Palestinian during a rescue operation of two male soldiers, who had mistakenly entered a Palestinian refugee camp, following Waze’s directions.

IDF soldiers are under standing orders not to use GPS services or navigation apps in areas they are not familiar with.

“They should be using maps, and they should know the route,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told Newsweek at the time.

Waze was founded in 2006 as a community project, called “FreeMap Israel.” The company was bought by Google for over a billion dollars in 2013. Over the years, there have been a number of reports of Waze sending drivers into dangerous territories.

In 2014, a family of three reported being nearly lynched, when the app send them through Wadi Joz, an Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

In the case of IDF soldiers driving through the West Bank, Waze does offer a setting that avoids routes into PA territories.

The “application includes a specific default setting that prevents routes through areas which are marked as dangerous or prohibited for Israelis to drive through,” Spokeswoman for Waze, Julie Mossler, told Newsweek in the spring.

Lilly Maier is a news intern at the Forward. Reach her at maier@forward.com or on Twitter at @lillymmaier.


Lilly Maier

Lilly Maier

Lilly Maier is a news intern at the Forward. She is a graduate journalism student at New York University, where she studies as a Fulbright scholar. She also holds a B.A. in Jewish history from the University of Munich.
Contact Lilly at maier@forward.com, read her portfolio, or follow her on Twitter.

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