April 27th, 2012
06:32 PM ET

Israel sees potential and threat with Google program

By Elise Labott and Guy Azriel

If you've always wanted to travel through the buzzing streets of Tel Aviv, the cobblestone alleys and sacred sites in the old city of Jerusalem or view the extraordinary Baha'I gardens in Haifa, you can now do all of the above free of charge and without leaving your doorstep.

This week, Israel joined Google's ambitious street view service, offering computer users from all over the world a true-life experience of walking through several main cities in this Middle Eastern state.

"We have a lot of religious and cultural sites that speak to many faiths, like the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre , the Via Dolorosa and the Muslim quarter in the old city of Jerusalem" says Meir Brand, managing director of Google Israel. "These sites are precious and they have an emotional impact for billions of people all over the world. Many of those people don't have access or didn't have the chance to come and visit Israel. Our hope is that they see these treasures, the beauty of these, and that after they see and browse virtually from their pc or from their mobile, they are going to fall in love with the country and also come and visit".

While Brand believes the project could become a real tourist attraction and an important engine for economic growth not all Israelis are as thrilled with the new intrusive and detailed images generated by Brand's cameras.

In a country where security is paramount, some believe there service offers a convenient roadmap for terrorists to plan attack against Israelis.

Military intelligence expert Ron Ben Yishai says the information obtained by Google's cams could be very useful for many groups or individuals gathering pre operational intelligence.

This, Yishai says, is particularly true if terrorists make use of statistical weapons like rockets and missiles to hit a wide area. "(When) hitting in an area, you want to see how this area looks like, how many people are roaming in the streets in a certain hour of the day. and this they can get," Yishai said.

We asked Ron Ben Yishai whether he is comfortable with his house being available on the Google street view. "

"No. definitely not", he answers. "Not only with what I do with military intelligence, but if I say something that someone doesn't like".

“They can find your house now,” CNN asked.

"Not only can they find it,” Yishai says. “But also plan how to penetrate it and get me".

Side by side with security concerns also emerge various questions of personal privacy. While Google says it makes a real effort to blur out faces and license plates caught on camera lenses, valuable information on people's homes and surroundings is now easily accessible for all nonetheless.

Ido Kennan, an Israeli technology blogger says Google cooperates with Israeli authorities in blocking images of government buildings and strategic sites but does not give the same attention to the privacy of regular citizens.

Standing outside a prominent cafe in the heart of Jerusalem which was the site of a terrorist attack some ten years ago, Kennan points out on the screen of his laptop to the fact that footage of the establishment is available for all in various angles, while the residence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu located just a few hundred feet away is completely blurred out on the Google service.

"The government gave permission gave permission to take pictures of certain places in Israel. The interesting thing is if taking a photo of a street is open and not a security risk, why is this blurred, and if it is a security risk, why isn't my house blurred?" Kennan wonders.

The service also gives the user a close-up view to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. For instance, one can see the separation fence between Israeli and Palestinian neighborhoods. And when Google’s cameras were mapping Jerusalem, they caught a vigil for the kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, who has since been released.

All of the security checkpoints faced by Palestinians, however, are blurred.

Filed under: Israel
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. retkirnov

    There is always this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_rMpRtlYCs to think about.

    April 30, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Reply
  2. ayala

    i hope we can sort out our leadership problems and get ourselves back into focus, and realise that external pressures should not influence us

    April 29, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Reply
  3. Gideon

    Israel needs to be the focus.

    We are in danger from Iran, and the USA owes Israel big time for what happened to us in WW2.

    Al queda needs to be maintained, to keep the Americans engaged in anti terror activities, else Israel might suffer..

    If Osama was a burger, America would have found him sooner…

    April 29, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Reply
    • Prometheus

      Israel is an aparteid nation, and the leading cause of global anti semetic sentiments.

      Israel has violated international law on numerous occasions, and the AIPAC lobby has more power than any other of its counterparts.

      Lebannon…Gaza….The ethnic cleansing during 1947…uss liberty… nukes sold to aparteid south Africa…

      They are criminals.

      April 29, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Reply
      • henry tobias

        How is it then that anti-Semitism predated Israel by a thousand years or more?

        April 30, 2012 at 3:02 am |
    • SpeakTruth

      Gideon, you have to be the dumbest jew i have ever Met. How does America owe you penny pushers ANY thing for WW2? This is why Israel And the jews will never succeed, you are parasites. You can never survive on your own, You require the strength and might of other nations to fill your hollow threats of Action. America Is changing, it will come to its senses sooner or later and stop backing you. We will be waiting on the other side of that fence for you rest assured

      April 30, 2012 at 3:13 am | Reply
    • Joe

      If you read the other comments from "Gideon," it is apparent that he is not really an Israeli and is only trying to stir up trouble.

      April 30, 2012 at 9:43 am | Reply
  4. SayanIndia

    Not a very encouraging development from security perspective I must say. With that kind of visual details openly available, hostile car bombs potentially can wrought havoc at selected points in busy hours.


    April 29, 2012 at 9:35 am | Reply
  5. canadianwop

    Why all the hate towards the Jews?......leave these people alone, how would like to be picked on every day of you're life. Let them live in peace for gods sake

    April 29, 2012 at 9:20 am | Reply
    • The War Criminal General Sherman

      I certainly have no problem with letting them live in peace. If only they would let others do the same.

      April 29, 2012 at 10:13 am | Reply
      • Gideon

        Israel does not require peace, like Pussy Americans. Israel has enemies, and we will kill them.

        And you will help us. If you don't, woe on you....

        April 29, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
      • The War Criminal General Sherman

        Gideon and Jacobb..... you are both one and the same, and you are 'both' scumbags. Burn in fucking hell, 'both' of you.


        April 29, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
      • RagMcmuffin

        Ahhh..Gideon..may 500 camels shit down your throat for taking such non-sense you dick licker!

        April 30, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • Jacobb

      We Jews do not want your pity. You will fear us, or Israel will see to your subjugation.

      April 29, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Reply
      • RagMcmuffin

        Warstiener...may 6000 camels fuck your mother while you watch her anal bleed you stupid fuck!

        April 30, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • RagMcmuffin

      My bad Gideion, I thought you were against Jews.....

      April 30, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Reply
  6. warsteiner

    Monsters, You Jews are the worst,How can you claim that you lost 6 million jews in a war then go and preach the same thing about Arabs. You have lied and stolen from the whole world and deny it at every turn. If America was told in advance that you were going to Palestine to invade the country and imprison its people you could not have got away with it. You lie about the stolen nuke you have. Your people go to countries around the world to exploit them for as much money as you can them you take it back and retire in you free home from the state. Someday you will be called to task for what your doing now and you will all pay. I am not an Arab and dont have any love for the extremist. I simply love truth and fairness. I also read the book that you all tried to stop from bring published. You know the one that proves 6 million is another lie it would have been impossible. But that was all part of the plan to convince the US that you needed help getting to Palestine to be close to you heritage LOL

    April 29, 2012 at 5:39 am | Reply
    • flooringuy

      You sir are so blinded by your hatred for jews, you completely ignore all the contributions us jews gave to the world, you repeat anti semitic garbage used by many people to persecute jews for a millenia.

      April 29, 2012 at 8:23 am | Reply
      • Gideon


        Jews are chosen, goyim should be happy to eat our scraps.

        Israel will kill those who oppose it. Watch your mouth Jew hater...

        April 29, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  7. beastfrommiddleeast

    Wow Jews love money so dam much they would show all of there country to outside world for money Hahaha but its funny someone can use this to enter and do some damage u dumb Jew bet u didn't think of that oh let me guess only thing u guys were thinking about was money......

    April 29, 2012 at 1:21 am | Reply
  8. ayala

    i love you israel

    the only country to look after the jewish people

    long live my country

    April 28, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Reply
    • beastfrommiddleeast

      Stfu dumb bitch or hoe what Eva u are

      April 29, 2012 at 1:23 am | Reply
      • flooringuy

        go educate yourself you idiot!!, maybe you'll get further in life.

        April 29, 2012 at 8:24 am |
  9. Prometheus


    Be more.

    April 28, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Reply
  10. ayala

    israel should slowly get rid of its enemies... namely the arab states
    this will do the world a LOT of justice

    April 28, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Reply
    • David

      I agree, genocide can be used for good, as long as Israel does the killing.

      No Jews will die like that again.

      April 28, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Reply
      • beastfrommiddleeast

        One of my favorite Hitler quote of all time is one day u gonna curse at me for not killing all them money hungry jews...and my second fave quote was I am kill all Jews leave one male one female so world can see how animilistic they are and money hungry they are...I don't hate all Jews I hate the zionest Jews fuck zionism and believe me there are plenty of rabias that agree with me bitch

        April 29, 2012 at 1:29 am |
    • beastfrommiddleeast

      I think isreal should get rid of ur dumb ass money hungry Dick sucking ur own mother sister fucking pussy ass hahahaha

      April 29, 2012 at 1:32 am | Reply
      • Hahahahahaha

        My favorite Hitler quote is "When I'm done with these Jews, I'm going after these damn towel heads next." Hahahahahahahaha

        April 30, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
      • RagMcmuffin

        Okay, hahahahaha..what the fuck. I always thought of you as alright till I heard this shit...may 10,000 camels shoot their wade down your daddys throat while you witness anal rasp on your mother you dumb fuck

        April 30, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • warsteiner

      Lady the Jews are nothing more then gypsies, The jews have invaded and now squat on Palestinian land and hurt them. It has been a wrong that the jews have lied to the world about and even lied to gather help from other countries. No religion deserves to own a country. You people have lied and stolen from the world to build your encampment. You continue to lie about your stolen nuke. I dont blame you or the jews whom dont live their. But give every jew a free home to retire to is a theft as well you people go around the world soaking the country you live in then you leave it when you have enough to retire in your stolen country

      April 29, 2012 at 5:26 am | Reply
  11. shivadass



    Imperialism is mankinds greatest epidemic.

    April 28, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Reply
  12. Nicholas "Mike" Quackenbush III

    Say "Sean Green". What have you against "juice"? You state death to all "juice". Does this include freshly squeezed orange juice for morning breakfast?

    April 28, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Reply
  13. sean green

    Not another one of these comment sections. Inb4 death to all juice

    April 28, 2012 at 11:24 am | Reply
  14. Nicholas Mike Quackenbush III

    Although I am not a Jew nor care for anything but science & science fiction I am quite enthusiastic about one of these days going to Israel & seeing the historic sites, and being friendly with the Jews – who here in America always seem intelligent & interesting human beings. I was especially annoyed with the Palestinians who celebrated in the streets when 9 11 occurred. Therefore, I must be labeled a Jewish sympathizer in spite of my agnostic leanings. I think this idea for google map tours of Israel are an excellent ideal, and in spite of the terrorists constantly harassing them they should not permit their stupidity from hindering tourist markets from flourishing.

    April 28, 2012 at 11:04 am | Reply
    • sean green

      I wish to visit both israel and the west bank someday. I just hope they are both alive when i get the cash. Although id never set a foot in gaza. Im crazy not stupid

      April 28, 2012 at 11:26 am | Reply
    • michaelfury

      "the Palestinians who celebrated in the streets when 9 11 occurred"


      April 28, 2012 at 11:44 am | Reply
  15. The War Criminal General Sherman

    Israel 'sees' a potential threat with almost everything.

    April 27, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Reply
    • gideon

      No, if it endangers Israel, it must be destroyed.

      The only way to completely protect Israel is cripple every third Arab by lottery. This is a popular idea in Israel, at least amoung Likud.

      Arabs should be denied this tech..

      April 27, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Reply
      • The War Criminal General Sherman

        I certainly have no problem with Israel or Israelis.

        But Likud?...........FUCK LIKUD!!!!!!

        April 28, 2012 at 12:08 am |

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