Israeli soldiers told to add 50 Palestinians per shift to mass surveillance database

Israeli soldiers told to add 50 Palestinians per shift to mass surveillance database
The Israeli army is asking its soldiers document at least 50 Palestinians per shift as part of a mass surveillance programme to comprehensively monitor the movement of Palestinians in the West Bank.
2 min read
24 March, 2022
The Israeli army is attempting to monitor the movements of Palestinians through a mass surveillance system [Getty]

Israeli soldiers stationed in the West Bank have been instructed to enter the details of at least 50 Palestinians into the army’s surveillance database per shift, according to Haaretz.

Soldiers who do not meet the quota will be required to remain on shift until they fulfill it.

The Israeli army is using a technology called 'Blue Wolf', a facial recognition system that enables Israeli soldiers to track and monitor the movement of Palestinians.

Personal information - such as their photographs, ID card numbers, age, gender, place of residence, vehicle number places, and whether they are allowed to work in Israel - are added to the database.

Israeli soldiers competed with other units to see who could photograph the most Palestinians, including children and the elderly, to complete the database, according to The Washington Post.

The investigation estimates that Blue Wolf holds thousands of photographs, with one former soldier describing mockingly it as a "Facebook for Palestinians".

Some soldiers who spoke to Haaretz and claimed they had protested against the new order were sent a clarification from their commanders who reiterated the original directive.

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Such widespread use of facial recognition technology has been banned in several cities in the industrialised world, including San Francisco and Boston.

Israel's comprehensive surveillance and assault on privacy added another layer to its decades-long oppression of the Palestinians living in the occupied territories.

Israeli forces have displaced millions of Palestinian families from their homes since the country's creation in 1948 and continue to occupy the West Bank and besiege the Gaza Strip.

Its systematic oppression of Palestinians amounts has been described as "apartheid" by the UN’s Special Rapporteur for human rights, as well as human rights groups.