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Google Maps and Waze temporarily disable live traffic data in Israel, Gaza

Google is temporarily disabling live traffic conditions on its mapping service apps, Google Maps and Waze, in Israel, the tech company confirmed Monday, as the country prepares for a potential ground invasion into Gaza.

Google Maps and Waze temporarily disable live traffic data in Israel Gaza gcw
First Published Oct 25, 2023, 12:34 PM IST

At the Israeli military's request, Alphabet Inc.'s Google is turning off real-time traffic conditions in Israel and the Gaza Strip for its Maps and Waze applications in anticipation of a possible ground incursion into Gaza.

"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 busyness information out of consideration for the safety of local communities," a spokesperson for Google said in a statement. 

The Israel Defence Forces have requested that Google remove real-time crowding statistics in Israel and Gaza, according to a source with knowledge of the situation who wished to remain anonymous in order to discuss internal concerns. Movements of Israeli troops may be revealed by real-time traffic data.

Following Russia's invasion of that nation last year, the business used a similar measure in Ukraine, turning off real-time data on foot and vehicle traffic.  Drivers using Maps and Waze will still receive projected arrival times based on current circumstances, even if the guidance apps won't display real-time traffic, according to Google.

The development was initially reported by the Israeli tech blog GeekTime, which claimed that Apple Inc.'s Maps programme cooperated with the request from the Israeli army. An inquiry for comment was not immediately answered by an Apple official. A request for comment was not immediately answered by the Israel Defence Forces. 

Following strikes by the terrorist group Hamas that resulted in the deaths of over 1,400 people in southern Israel and the kidnapping of over 200 more, Israel called up over 300,000 reservists. A ground invasion of Gaza has been alluded to by the nation's military, which has drawn concern from international leaders due to the possibility of civilian losses. US President Joe Biden stated that during his discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week, he had inquired about "alternatives" to a ground war.

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