Israel accused of 'GPS jamming' to thwart Iran attacks as phones displayed wrong locations in Middle East

Israel accused of 'GPS jamming' to thwart Iran attacks as phones displayed wrong locations in Middle East
Residents across a number of Middle Eastern countries found themselves inaccurately placed on multiple mobile phone applications.
3 min read
15 April, 2024
Israel has been accused to GPS jamming on the likes of Google Maps to thwart attacks from Iran [Getty/file photo]

Several citizens in Jordan, Egypt and other countries in the Middle East said apps such as Google Maps and Uber showed inaccurate locations amid Iran’s missile and drone attacks targeting Israel on Saturday, leading many to believe Tel Aviv was deliberately interfering with mobile navigation systems.

Many residents said their mobile phones were placing them in different countries altogether, prompting accusations of GPS jamming.

Many have accused Israel of purposefully manipulating the GPS system in a bid to thwart incoming Iranian strikes on the country, carried out in retaliation for a strike on Iran's consulate in Damascus, Syria, earlier this month, which was blamed on Israel.

The attack killed 13 people, Iranian state TV said, including two senior Iran Revolutionary Guards commanders belonging to its Quds Force branch.

The attack triggered a wave of anger in Iran, with  Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowing revenge.

One user said their family in Jordan reported that their GPS was showing the location as Lebanon or Egypt, even when used for standard car navigation purposes.

Political analyst Hafsa Hawala said her when her Jordan-based friends attempted to book a taxi on the taxi-hailing service Uber, the location was stated as the Lebanese capital Beirut.

The campaign director for the non-profit organisation Avaaz, Fadi Quran, said Google Maps showed his location as Cairo, Egypt, despite being based in the occupied West Bank.

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Flight tracking maps also displayed inaccurate aircraft locations due to GPS jamming, with many flights rerouted due to the closure of Lebanese, Iraqi and Jordanian airspace in a precautionary move as Iran launched its strikes on Israel.

Israel reported modest damage following the attack, while Iranian state media said the strikes caused "heavy blows" to an air base in the Naqab (Negev) desert.

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that apps such as Waze, Google Maps and several taxi-hailing applications in Israel were providing inaccurate locations and placing users in Beirut, demonstrating that the Israeli army was bracing for possible Iranian attacks on the country as early as April 4.

The move was also confirmed by  Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari.

Israel stepped up  GPS jamming efforts since it began waging its war on the Gaza Strip on October 7,  mainly in the north of the country, Reuters said, in a measure against Hezbollah strikes.

Israel has been waging a deadly war in the Gaza Strip for over six months, killing at least 33,729 Palestinians, mostly women and children. Israel's war has escalated in the region, targeting Lebanon, Syria and other Iran-linked interests, triggering international fears of a wider conflict in the region.