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Israeli soldiers, armed Palestinians engage in firefight after Waze mixup

A total of 20 people were injured, and one Palestinian man was killed.


Josh Katzowitz


Posted on Mar 1, 2016   Updated on May 27, 2021, 3:47 am CDT

Though Waze might be a top-notch navigation app, a mistake while using it still can be deadly.

That’s what two Israeli soldiers discovered when an error using the Google app led them into an unfriendly Palestinian neighborhood late Monday, according to the Washington Post. The result was a firefight that left one Palestinian dead and 10 injured while Israeli defense forces, which had to launch a rescue mission for the two original soldiers, also suffered 10 injuries.

The two soldiers apparently had been using Waze, which features a setting option that allows the user to avoid “dangerous areas” (it apparently had been disabled on that specific phone), and according to a Waze official who talked to Agence France-Presse, the Israeli soldier did not follow the suggested route. 

As the New York Times wrote, when the app is not in its safe mode, it doesn’t “distinguish between the different areas of the West Bank’s political map.” Soon enough, the two soldiers found themselves in a Palestinian refugee camp.

Once the soldiers were discovered, the Post writes they were attacked by a mob, apparently in fear of an Isreali raid, that threw rocks and Molotov cocktails. Once the soldiers learned their jeep was blocked from turning around—and had caught on fire, no less—they scattered in different directions. An hour later, the rescue mission had picked up both soldiers, but within that time frame, other Israeli soldiers were involved in a firefight with armed Palestinians.

“There was a lot traffic, and you could hear the shooting like rain falling,” said Sufian Taha, the Post’s West Bank correspondent who witnessed the fight. “Bullets were coming from every direction. Suddenly, a large number of soldiers arrived and about 20 armored jeeps entered the camp.”

More from the Post: “It remained unclear how the soldiers could have stumbled into the middle of the camp, sandwiched between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah. To reach Qalandiya, the soldiers would have had to pass by the separation barrier between the West Bank and Israel and through an Israeli checkpoint.”

Israel Defense Forces/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0) 

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*First Published: Mar 1, 2016, 6:09 pm CST