Google Maps and Waze suspend live traffic updates in Israel and Gaza in effort that could help prevent live-tracking troop movements
- Google has suspended live traffic updates in Israel and Gaza amid the war.
- The move could help prevent the live-tracking of on-the-ground military movements.
Google has stopped live traffic updates in Israel and the Gaza Strip amid the war, a spokesperson for the company confirmed to Insider on Tuesday.
This change was done at the request of the Israel Defense Forces, Bloomberg reported, and impacts both Google Maps and Waze.
"As we have done previously in conflict situations and in response to the evolving situation in the region, we have temporarily disabled the ability to see live traffic conditions and busyness information out of consideration for the safety of local communities," a Google spokesperson told Insider. "Anyone navigating to a specific place will still get routes and ETAs that take current traffic conditions into account."
Google took a similar action in 2022 amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It turned off live traffic updates in Ukraine, reportedly because the apps were being used to track military movements.
Israel's war against Hamas, which was declared after the Palestinian militant group's October 7 terrorist attacks against Israel, has continued to escalate. As of October 23, more than 5,000 Palestinian residents in Gaza and over 1,400 Israelis are estimated to have died since October 7. An estimated 15,273 Palestinians have been injured in Gaza since Israel's military response, and more than 5,400 Israelis injured in the same time period.
The most recent change in Google Maps and Waze comes ahead of an anticipated ground invasion by Israel into Gaza, a scenario in which troop movements could theoretically impact traffic.
Google Maps' live traffic updates work by getting data from smartphones that have the app installed. It uses location tracking to gauge how many cars are on a certain roadway and how fast they are going. Those with the app can get updates on how bad traffic might be in a certain area.
Those in the area will still be able to use Google Maps and Waze to help with navigation. However, Americans should think twice before traveling to the conflict zone. The US Department of State urges Americans to "reconsider" travel to Israel and the West Bank. It also advises Americans to not travel to Gaza at all. Earlier this month, more than 40 airlines canceled flights from North America to Israel.
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