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Monday, July 15, 2024

Google and Apple limit map functions in Israel and Gaza

The deactivation was reportedly requested by the Israeli military ahead of an expected ground offensive in Gaza

Google Maps, Waze and Apple Maps are no longer showing live traffic updates for Israel and Gaza, according to multiple media reports. The move comes ahead of an expected invasion of the Palestinian territory by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

“As we have done previously in conflict situations and in response to the evolving situation in the region, we have temporarily disabled the ability to see live traffic conditions and business information out of consideration for the safety of local communities,” a Google spokesperson told Bloomberg on Monday.

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He noted that while real-time traffic data has been turned off, users can still use the navigation systems and will still be able to see the estimated times of arrival, which will be based on live conditions.

Another source with knowledge of the situation told Bloomberg that Google’s removal of real-time crowding data in Israel and Gaza was done at the request of the IDF, as such information could potentially reveal Israeli troop movements.

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Previously, Google made a similar move when it disabled live traffic data on Google Maps in Ukraine in 2022 following the launch of Russia’s military operation. At the time, the company said it made the decision after consulting with Ukrainian authorities.

According to Israeli tech outlet Geek Time, Apple appears to have started adhering to the IDF request on Monday, with users unable to see live traffic reports on Apple Maps.

Neither the IDF nor Apple have confirmed or denied the reports.

Meanwhile, US officials have reportedly expressed concerns over Israel’s anticipated ground operation, with some suggesting that the IDF does not have a workable plan for sending troops into Gaza, and could end up being unable to eliminate Hamas.

Hamas launched an incursion into Israel on October 7, killing an estimated 1,400 Israelis and taking another 200 hostage. Israel responded by declaring war on the Palestinian group and laying siege to Gaza, while launching artillery and air strikes and killing more than 5,000 people, according to local authorities.