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Daily Israel Report

GPS in Judea, Samaria: Shorter Route May Shorten Life

Using a GPS could endanger one's life in Judea and Samaria, due to the risk of ending up in the Palestinian Authority, says the NAVNGO company.
By Hana Levi Julian and Rachel Sylvetsky
First Publish: 5/13/2010, 10:41 AM / Last Update: 5/13/2010, 3:49 PM

Flash 90

Using the GPS to get from Point A to Point B without double-checking the route suggested could become a life-threatening exercise for non-Arabs using it in Judea and Samaria, according to the NAVNGO company. 

GPS (Global Positioning System) is a satellite-based navigational network, receivers of which are installed in vehicles to direct drivers to the shortest route to anywhere – an efficient way to travel in most parts of the world. In travelling to some parts of the Judea and Samaria, however, it might get you killed - because Israel has built roads skirting Arab cities and they are somewhat longer, while the GPS advises the shorter route. One GPS company warns that it is unwilling to take the chance of their instruments advising a non-secure route because of its shorter length.

Until recently, one could rely on the IDF soldiers at checkpoints who would prevent non-Arab drivers from entering unsafe areas. However, due to pressure on Israel from the United States to remove security checkpoints placed to reduce terrorist activity, one might end up in the wrong place, surrounded by the wrong people.

For example, a Jewish couple visiting from the United States recently traveled to the Samaria Jewish community of Shilo in a rented car that was equipped with a GPS receiver. The system directed the Americans, who were unfamiliar with the terrain, to go straight through the PA-controlled city of Ramallah, located next to the Israeli Jewish community of Beit El.

“Thank G-d, they were turned back by IDF soldiers,” said Rachel S., a friend of the family.

Two IDF reservists who took a wrong turn in October 2000, without any connection to a GPS, were not as lucky: Vadim Nurzhitz and Yossi Avrahami accidentally entered Ramallah while on patrol, and were brutally lynched by a mob of PA Arabs at the beginning of the second intifada. A photo of terrorist Aziz Salha, waving his bloody hands out the window of PA Chairman and PLO head Yasser Arafat's compound, made headlines around the world. There have been some instances where the PA Police returned Israelis who lost their way.

On the other hand, PA residents who go through checkpoints to enter Israel are safe as anywhere else in the world.

A warning not to use the software in the region now appears on the front page of the website of NAVNGO, the GPS navigator company whose software is used in Israel. The alert warns drivers to disable the system in Judea and Samaria, as the IDF “intends to remove a number of roadblocks” in the regions.

The alert affects those using the navigational programs iGO8, iGO6, Miomap v3, Nav N GO,
Limousin, iGO8 Automotive, iGO Fun, iGO Amigo, iGO More and iGO8 Judaism.

“In order to avoid the danger of entering dangerous areas, we recommend avoiding the use of the navigational programs that you have in the territories of Judea and Samaria. For this purpose, we ask that you make sure that the types of roads included in the designation for computing the route in the navigational program you have does not include the options “Judea and Samaria”, “Permission required” or “Special road.” Likewise, you are asked to check the route suggested by the program from start to finish to be sure it does not include routes [that are not meant for non-Arab drivers - ed.]  in Judea and Samaria."

“At this opportunity we emphasize that one should not operate the program while driving and that in any event, one should not rely on the information provided by the navigational program as the only source of information but instead only as an aid in addition to the driving instructions and road signs, taking proper attention of the route, the situation in practice, and being logical,” the alert said.