Israel has reason to fear Google mapping products. Google Earth has been cited by their nemesis, the Gaza Palestinians, as a means to pinpoint targets for rocket attacks. However, concerns about terrorism may take a backseat to potential economic benefits. Internet maps are put to good and nefarious uses. The country?s fears are well founded. In 2007, the Guardian quoted Khaled Jaabari (below), known as Abu Walid, the group commander of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in Gaza, a group aligned with the Fatah political party, as saying:
We obtain the details from Google Earth and check them against our maps of the city centre and sensitive areas.
Google advertises Google Earth as giving you the ability on your desktop, Android or iDevices to "explore the world in 3D, including mountains, famous landmarks, and 3D buildings." Those landmarks can easily become targets.
Now, by using Google Street View, Israel is weighing whether terrorist organizations could take advantage of the views to plan attacks against prominent Israeli citizens and government officials.
The Israeli intelligence community has raised concerns. Lt. Col. Mordechai Kedar, a 25 year veteran in the intelligence field, feels that Street View could facilitate terrorist attacks. He said: "We already have problems with Google Earth, which exposes all kinds of facilities."
However, money may outweigh safety. Tourism could get a boost by wannabe sightseers viewing Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in 3D. A closer look at Jerusalem could whet the appetite of the religious to undertake an on-site visit. Not only pilgrims to the country?s shrines, but surfers who follow the sun and the waves could easily be enticed to take an actual trip to Tel Aviv after making a virtual visit.
Israeli Cabinet ministers Kahlon, Peled, Eitan, Misezhnikov, and Livnat, under the direction of Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor are looking into, and encouraging, the possibility of including Israel in Google?s Street Views.
However, if Google gets the go-ahead to bring their cameras into Israeli cities, there probably will be limitations. The ministers are expected to discuss privacy and safety matters, including whether to allow Google to photograph the streets where the prime minister’s and president’s residences, the government compound and foreign embassies are located. Thus, Israel finds itself on a teeter totter, shekels or security, security or shekels.