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HomeGeopolitical CompassThe LevantIsrael escalates surveillance of Palestinians with facial recognition program in West Bank

Israel escalates surveillance of Palestinians with facial recognition program in West Bank

Author: Elizabeth Dwoskin

Affiliation: Washington Post

Organization/Publisher: Washington Post

Date/Place: November 9, 2021/USA

Word Count: 2693


Keywords: Israeli Operation, West Bank, Surveillance Campaign, Blue Wolf, facial recognition.


According to recent Israeli soldier reports of the operation, the Israeli military has been conducting a broad surveillance campaign in the occupied West Bank to monitor Palestinians by merging facial recognition with a growing network of cameras and smartphones. The monitoring program, which has been in place for the past two years, includes a smartphone app called Blue Wolf that snaps images of Palestinians. If a person is to be detained, arrested, or left alone, the phone app flashes in different colors to inform soldiers. Soldiers competed last year in photographing Palestinians, including children and the elderly, to construct the database utilized by Blue Wolf, with rewards awarded to the unit with the most photos taken. The exact number of people photographed is likely in the thousands. The surveillance program has been detailed in interviews with two former Israeli soldiers conducted by The Washington Post, as well as in separate statements given to the Israeli advocacy group Breaking the Silence by them and four other recently discharged troops, which were later shared with The Post. Aside from Blue Wolf, the Israeli military has placed face-scanning cameras throughout Hebron’s divided city to assist soldiers at checkpoints in identifying Palestinians even before they present their ID cards. According to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, investigations demonstrating that the technology is erroneous have been exaggerated. In protesting to the proposed European prohibition, the organization stated that time would be better spent developing safeguards for law enforcement’s appropriate use of the technology and performance requirements for government facial recognition systems. However, in the West Bank, this technology is only “another instrument of Palestinian tyranny and subjection.”


By: Maryam Khan, CIGA Research Associate



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