Google street view
Google street viewScreenshot

Google officially announced on Sunday the launch of “Street View” in Israel, allowing users from around the world to view and explore streets and sites across the country via 360-degree street-level imagery. While the official launch was Sunday, internet users were able to access Israel Street View already on Thursday.

In the first stage, Google has made available imagery of the cities of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Jaffa and Haifa. This includes sites of interest such as the Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Armenian quarters of Jerusalem’s Old City, the Via Dolorosa, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Western Wall, Mount of Olives, old port of Jaffa, the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa, and many more.

In the coming months, Google plans to add imagery of other cities and sites including the Dead Sea, Nazareth, Tiberias, Tzfat, Akko, Be’er Sheva, Eilat, Ashkelon, Ramat Gan, Rosh Ha’ayin, Hadera, Bat-Yam, and more.

“It’s a very special day for us and we’re really happy to have Israel on the map,” Meir Brand, Managing Director of Google Israel, told Arutz Sheva.

Brand said that he believes Google Street View will not discourage tourism to Israel, seeing as people will have all the imagery available on their computer screens.

“I actually think that people love to browse different places, and when they plan a trip they love to look at the neighborhood and at the area of the hotel in which they’ll be staying,” he said. “And what we see, usually, is a very positive correlation between those who actually search for places on the net and an increase in physical visits to that place.”

Brand noted that the launch of Street View in Israel came after constructive discussions between Google and the security and data protection authorities in Israel, both of which approved Google’s plans to bring Street View to Israel.

“We’ve worked and had very fruitful discussions with Israeli security authorities, and I’m very happy that they’ve approved our launch,” he said.

The mayors of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa were all in attendance at Sunday’s official Street View launch.

“More than 3 billion people of faith around the world are interested in Jerusalem and wish to visit at least once in their lifetime,” said Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. “Today, Jerusalem joins many cities around the world that can be visited virtually. Google Street View will allow millions of people to visit and explore virtually our great city through their computers and cell phones.

“On taking office, I set a goal of reaching 10 million visitors to Jerusalem annually within a decade,” he added. “Google Street View is an important tool to increase the number of tourists to Jerusalem and to open up the doors of Jerusalem to the entire world. The service will allow everyone who wants to come to Jerusalem to better plan their visits and to taste the city before they even arrive.”

Ron Huldai, Mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, said, “If you want to discover Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Israel’s cultural and entertainment center, you no longer have to be here physically. Instead, you can simply ‘Google’ the city from your home and discover much of the city: the boulevards; Tel Aviv port; the ‘Bauhaus’ buildings in the White City; the Jaffa clock tower; the Tel-O-Fun bike stations, and more. The fact that Google chose our city for this project, together with Haifa and Jerusalem, demonstrates Tel Aviv-Jaffa’s international positioning and I’m proud of that. I’d like to thank Google for the successful cooperation on this project. Who knows, perhaps one day Street View will be able to show users where they can find available parking in the city?”

Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav said, “Street View on Google Maps brings streets, houses and sites to any screen. It makes the world accessible to anyone and contributes to the development of tourism. We in Haifa are already working on applications to leverage Street View for the benefit of tourists who want to explore the city’s streets as part of the tourism revival in Haifa.”

As with all Street View imagery, Google applies face-blurring and license plate blurring to protect people's privacy. Users can request additional blurring of themselves, their home or their car by clicking on 'report a problem' on the bottom left hand corner of the image.