Two Israeli soldiers accidentally entered a Palestinian refugee camp on the West Bank while following Google’s Waze app, according to The Wall Street Journal. The mistake led to clashes between the two opposing forces and required the Israeli military to launch a rescue operation.
The WSJ says the two Israeli soldiers had been using Waze for navigation but forgot to turn on a security feature that allows users to “avoid certain areas.” As a result, the two men happened upon a camp, which is said to sit behind a separation wall between Israel and the West Bank.
During the clashes, the Israeli military deployed several troops and helicopters in a rescue mission that allegedly lasted an hour; the two lost soldiers had to abandon their truck after it was set on fire by a firebomb. In the end, 10 Israeli soldiers were injured, and one Palestinian civilian was killed.
Waze responded to the incident and said the drivers need to be more cognisant of the situation.
“Unfortunately, there is no ability to prevent [accidents] altogether, as ultimately some prudence is in the driver’s hands.”
Waze has a feature that helps drivers avoid dangerous areas. However, the two drivers apparently forgot to turn this feature on and instead plotted the shortest distance from Jerusalem to their destination in the West Bank. In addition, a Waze spokesperson claims the two soldiers deviated from the suggested route.
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon noted that the proper authorities are already working with Waze to avoid future incidents like this, but warned that soldiers should “not follow technology blindly.”