Did Google’s Traffic App Lead Israeli Soldiers Into A Deadly Clash?

A bloody battle broke out after Israeli forces tried to rescue two soldiers who had mistakenly driven into a Palestinian refugee camp.

At least one Palestinian was killed and 10 others injured during violent clashes that could have been the result of a traffic app error.

The bloody battle broke out after two Israeli soldiers, reportedly using Waze, the Google-owned navigation app, accidentally entered Qalandiya refugee camp — a sensitive area located the occupied West Bank and Palestinian Authority control.

“The soldiers weren't familiar with the area, and the app took them by the shortest possible route — which was directly through the refugee camp,” said Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, according to NBC News.

An Israeli rescue mission was dispatched to the area after which the situation spiraled out of control, resulting in the shooting death of a 22-year-old Palestinian student.

The smartpohne app, invented in Israel, relies on crowdsourcing for its “avoid dangerous areas” setting. However, in places where it is not widely used, such as the one where the soldiers mistakenly entered, the app’s doesn’t really work.

Waze, however, denies that its service is responsible for the violence.

"[Waze] includes a specific default setting that prevents routes through areas which are marked as dangerous or prohibited for Israelis to drive through," the company said. "In this case, the setting was disabled. In addition, the driver deviated from the suggested route and, as a result, entered the prohibited area."

Technological error or not, the incident has fueled tension in the already embattled region where at least 178 Palestinians as well as 28 Israelis have been killed since October.

Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters

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