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Israeli Troops Who Relied On Waze Blundered Into Deadly Palestinian Firefight (washingtonpost.com) 199

An anonymous reader writes: Israeli forces mounted a rescue mission in a Palestinian neighborhood after gun battles erupted when two soldiers mistakenly entered the area because of an error on a satellite navigation app, Israeli authorities said Tuesday.The clashes late Monday in the Qalandiya refugee camp outside Jerusalem left at least one Palestinian dead and 10 injured, one seriously. According to initial Israeli reports, the two soldiers said they had been using Waze, a highly touted Israeli-invented navigation app bought more than two years ago by Google. The smartphone app, which has a settings option to 'avoid dangerous areas,' relies on crowdsourcing to give users the fastest traffic routes.
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Israeli Troops Who Relied On Waze Blundered Into Deadly Palestinian Firefight

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  • Sod it all, I want tech or geek news.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is geek news - crowd sourcing as a concept is flawed, wikipedia and its ilk included. It is fraught with peril from omission as well as the active misinformation.

      • The publisher/centralized approach is flawed too. There is no perfect solution.
        • All depends on who wants you dead. If someone wants you dead, relying on his stuff is bad. If everyone around you wants you dead, you might not want to use something that relies on everyone's good faith contribution.

      • crowd sourcing can be blamed just like the weather to justify military action that was not sanctioned by the people.

      • by nashv ( 1479253 )

        No, your expectation that crowd-sourcing is an accurate source of information is flawed. Crowd-sourcing is a way to get high quantity information, not necessarily high-quality information.

        The Israeli soldiers used the app incorrectly.

    • Re:Why is this here? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Your.Master ( 1088569 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2016 @05:54PM (#51618013)

      I was going to say that this would be the "people blindly follow satnav without engaging their brains" aspect of technology. However, upon reading the article, I see this:

      the driver deviated from the suggested route and, as a result, entered the prohibited area.

      So fuck that, this article is about when the people DON'T use satnav technology. Yet they are blaming it on an error in Waze paragraphs earlier. Maybe they think it's an error that Waze came close enough that a small deviation lead to disaster? Well, they also say that the soldier who went astray had turned off the "avoid dangerous or prohibited areas" setting, which is also a user error.

      Something doesn't quite add up about the Waze aspect of the story.

      • just wait for an auto drive car to mess up like this and who will do the hard time when you drives on to the airport runway?

        https://nakedsecurity.sophos.c... [sophos.com]

        Or drive though a armed forces base?

        On to a bus only lane / road?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jrumney ( 197329 )
        Its an excuse. A couple of soldiers went rogue and shot up a Palestinian refugee camp, and the IDF needs a cover story.
      • Yes. They also had to cross a freakin' checkpoint., that might have been a clue they were entering the West Bank.
        Also, those "security forces dressed in civilian clothes" didn't need Waze as an excuse to enter Qalandia in 2013 :
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      • They also say that they had the "avoid dangerous areas" feature switched off.

        The title and lede of the article are in complete conflict with the content of the article. So much so that I'd say that the lede and headline were not from the same author. This event had pretty much nothing whatever to do with Waze.

        As others have pointed out, the real take home from the article is that there is a refugee camp in Israel that is so dangerous that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinian Authority patrols there.

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      That is the curse of crowd-sourcing with traffic data. When you know the local roads around motorway intersections, it's easy to find the nearest off-ramp and sneak off home and avoid the tailbacks. But when you have a smartphone, Google rats you out, and directs everyone to follow you. Even if it does involves going through residential access roads meant for low traffic (these are the type of roads that are so narrow that cars have to park halfway on the pavements in order to just allow a single lane of tr

    • It contained the word Warz, while misused to the point of an entire different meaning,
      it gets picked up by search engines that would normally leave it alone.

  • umm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by darkitecture ( 627408 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2016 @05:47PM (#51617953)
    If you're relying on a commercial and/or free app or program for life-or-death situations, I think you're doing it wrong. If said option is the only option, then you have to take it at face value and accept some self-responsibility. I'm not going to trust my life to crowdsourcing for surgery or medication, so why would I trust my life to crowdsourcing for navigating near a war zone?
  • So, two soldiers of one of the best-trained, best-equipped military forces on the planet were using a consumer-oriented phone app for navigation?

    Something tells me that a certain two solders will be peeling a whole lot of potatoes over the next year or so.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Israeli soldiers don't peel potatoes, they chop vegetables for Shirazi salad, you insensitive clod.

    • by alantus ( 882150 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2016 @05:58PM (#51618041)

      Since we are talking about Israel, you can replace "two soldiers" with "two 18 year old kids".
      In most countries, kids graduate high school and start getting drunk and laid in college. In Israel kids finish high school and start their military service. And this is for both genders.

      • And instead of a couple of teenage rednecks driving through the black part of town looking to raise some hell...

    • So, two soldiers of one of the best-trained, best-equipped military forces on the planet were using a consumer-oriented phone app for navigation?

      I think you're confusing personal property with military equipment. Just because you're in the military doesn't mean you're on duty 24/7. A slight majority your life (in the US military at least) is probably spent wearing civilian clothing and driving a civilian car, only wearing a military uniform and operating military equipment if you're on duty. The later typically occurs on weekdays similar to a 9 to 5 job, with occasional field exercise and other extra duties, minus leave and pass.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2016 @05:48PM (#51617967) Homepage Journal

    If you're using crowdsourcing to figure out the safe way to go, someone's got to be the first one to report a hazard.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2016 @05:54PM (#51618011)

    I just looked through my Waze settings and I don't see "avoid dangerous areas", does that just show as an option for some third world places like Palestine or NYC?

    The closest thing I found was "avoid dirt roads"

    It seems Waze is sadly lacking the option to mark a hazard for "active firefight".

    • by harrkev ( 623093 )

      There WAS no firefight at the time. From TFA:

      In the camp, they were âoestormed by a mob of people with rocks and molotov cocktails,â Lerner said. The troopsâ(TM) vehicle was blocked from turning around and caught fire. The soldiers fled in separate directions.

      The trouble didn't show up until after they arrived.

      • I'm sorry, I can't read your Unicode comments... Can you use a text editor like vi or something?.

        • by fnj ( 64210 )

          Sloppy commenters. It's as if there were no "preview" function, isn't it?

        • by harrkev ( 623093 )

          Yeah. Sorry about the Unicode stuff. /. somehow lacks an "edit" functions. I usually don't proof-read copy-n-paste operations.

      • First of all "Ãoestormed" would make an awesome band name.

        But beyond that, once the car was firebombed it would have been helpful to mark that for other Waze users. Again, there's no good way to mark "active firefight" or "mob action" in Waze, though at the very least they could mark the burned-out husk of the vehicle as "object on road".

      • by tsotha ( 720379 )
        Heh heh. If someone firebombs my car, there's a firefight.
    • Well, Waze did know to send Infidel troops into a Mohammedan Jihadi camp and kick some butt!!! They're really living up to parent company Google's motto 'Do no evil'.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      I just looked through my Waze settings and I don't see "avoid dangerous areas"

      Here, I'll code it for ya:

      if(current_location.general=='mid-east') {
        write("Get the $[profanity] out of here!");
        run(foot_speed:=_MAX);
      }

    • The closest thing I found was "avoid dirt roads"

      I browsed through the source code when the client app was first released and you are indeed right. The option (at the time) to "Avoid Palestinian controlled areas" had been replaced with "Avoid dirt roads" in the worldwide code release.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Waze doesn't have the option to avoid "bad" areas, because Microsoft had a patent on it. I don't think MS has a navigation product any more, but they have a patent on avoiding high crime areas and because of that Waze have stated that they won't implement anything remotely similar.

  • What error? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wonkey_monkey ( 2592601 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2016 @05:54PM (#51618019) Homepage

    two soldiers mistakenly entered the area because of an error on a satellite navigation app

    And what was this supposed "error"?

    According to the article (or at least, the most informative quotes in the article), the "dangerous places" setting was switched off and the driver wasn't actually on the Waze-suggested route.

  • "Did you guys see anything in there about bullets and explosions? "

    "Ummm...Maybe check the current weather section."

  • What could possibly go wrong?

  • by drew_kime ( 303965 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2016 @05:57PM (#51618035) Journal

    A gun battle broke out in a Palestinian neighborhood late Monday after Israeli forces tried to rescue two soldiers who had mistakenly entered the area because of an error on a satellite navigation app, Israeli authorities said Tuesday.

    Really?

    Agence France-Presse quoted a Waze official on Tuesday as saying that the setting to warn about areas “dangerous or prohibited for Israelis to drive through” had been switched off on the device the soldiers used.

    “In this case, the setting was disabled,” the official told the news agency. “In addition, the driver deviated from the suggested route and, as a result, entered the prohibited area.”

    I'm having a really hard time seeing how that's the app's fault.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 01, 2016 @05:58PM (#51618037)

    policy and the map will be correct!

  • by taniwha ( 70410 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2016 @06:26PM (#51618185) Homepage Journal

    Of course one person's "dangerous neighbourhood" is someone else's "home" .... crowd sourcing the distinction is probably a silly idea - or was there an "Occupying Army" switch they forgot to turn on to tell it what side they were on?

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Waze is an Israeli product, and has a feature in the Israeli version that helps avoid areas that are considered dangerous to Israelis. It's one of the reasons I don't use it any more.

  • That'll hopefully teach them not to rely on civilian navigation tools that assume peacetime.

  • You would think traffic backing up at crossing 1, then 2, then 3, would give it an idea that crossing 4 would soon backup based on some sort of distance per minute algorithm bit NO!

    Bullets I can forgive, they travel faster than freight trains....

  • I look forward to reading their review on play.google.com

    "It is a killer app."
  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2016 @06:59PM (#51618345)

    "In 300 meters, shoot left."

    "...recalculating..."

    "In 200 meters, throw hand grenades right."

    "...recalculating..."

    "Arriving at ambush location, on right."

  • A refugee camp is not a dangerous area. The problem is that they were foreign military invaders and they were probably there to do harm. It's not really easy to "wander into" a refugee camp.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by harrkev ( 623093 )

      Invaders? You do know how Israel came to possess those areas, right? They took that land after all of their friendly neighbors tried to wipe them off of the map. Israel's caution has been proven to be right time and time again as Palestinians constantly try to kill Jews. If Mexico tried to destroy America, who could blame us if we took part of it to make sure that no weapons could get close?

      Here are a couple of examples of how Israel's friendly neighbors only want peace and the extermination of every Je

      • by Hunter-Killer ( 144296 ) on Wednesday March 02, 2016 @12:16AM (#51619639)

        They took that land after all of their friendly neighbors tried to wipe them off of the map.

        Not exactly: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1948_Palestinian_exodus [wikipedia.org]

        Jewish militias started killing Arabs, Arabs fled, Israel blocked their return, and redistributed their property/lands to Jewish immigrants. Israel's hands are just as bloody as anyone else's.

        I don't fault Indians for scalping my ancestors whenever they had the opportunity, and I don't fault the Palestinian people for attacking their occupiers whenever they get the chance. Israel can certainly do quite a bit to right their wrongs--honoring the Palestinian right of return would be a start.

      • If Mexico tried to destroy America, who could blame us if we took part of it to make sure that no weapons could get close?

        Weird to phrase it as a hypothetical. Around 1/4 of the US used to be Mexico. See Mexican-American War.

    • The problem is that they were foreign military invaders

      So two guys in a jeep counts an invasion these days?

  • by shaitand ( 626655 ) on Tuesday March 01, 2016 @07:01PM (#51618357) Journal
    Isn't this like a police officer reporting that waze failed to warn him about his speed trap before he set it up and gave out four tickets?

    How exactly was a navigation app supposed to warn the soldiers an area was dangerous when the only thing that made it dangerous was two soldiers walking into a peaceful neighborhood then subsequently shooting it up, killing a person and injuring 10 others. Or are they really suggesting they walked into a pack of heavily armed dangerous Palestinians who unexpectedly opened fire on them, all missing with every surprise shot, with the result of them walking away chuckling and talking about a smartphone app leaving a trail of bodies behind because they are just that damn good.

    Have they ever considered the possibility that Google is okay with people of both sides of their holy war using the app and considers an area safe until someone on either side reports a couple murderous militant assholes shooting someone who prays to wrong flavor of the same sky fairy?
    • Have they ever considered the possibility that Google is okay with people of both sides of their holy war using the app and considers an area safe until someone on either side reports a couple murderous militant assholes shooting someone who prays to wrong flavor of the same sky fairy?

      https://twitter.com/tomgauld/s... [twitter.com] ;)

  • ... result from the shit-fit Israel threw some years back when Google showed Palestine as a separate country?

  • "Agence France-Presse quoted a Waze official on Tuesday as saying that the setting to warn about areas 'dangerous or prohibited for Israelis to drive through' had been switched off on the device the soldiers used. âoe 'In this case, the setting was disabled,' the official told the news agency. 'In addition, the driver deviated from the suggested route and, as a result, entered the prohibited area.' " A cynic might suggest the soldiers went looking for trouble, and found more than they were counting o
  • Those guys certainly weren't the sharpest pencils in the box.

  • This seems a bit similar to yesterdays discussion on people following a robot out of a burning building. They trusted the robot, and got burned...these guys trusted the app, and (figuratively) got burned.

  • I've always wondered. If enough people drive off a bridge while using Google Maps, or Waze, or any app that uses crowd sourced data, would it then suggest others follow and also drive off the bridge? It should clearly label it as a fast moving road based on gps data until they hit the end of the bridge, and accelerometer data once they're falling off.

  • I'm sorry, but simply because some silicon and radio waves are involved, I don't see why that elevates this to newsworthy status. How about a headline from 1952 Korea, or 1944 Russia, or 1776 Virginia, where a poorly rendered paper map led to an ambush? Does it make the front page of a firearms journal of the day? I hope not.

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