Israeli troops follow app, stray into Palestinian camp

Aron Heller
Associated Press

Jerusalem — Israeli troops who came under attack after raiding a volatile refugee camp north of Jerusalem early Tuesday were trying to rescue a pair of soldiers who had apparently lost their way using the popular navigation app Waze, the military said.

Palestinian health officials say a 22-year-old Palestinian man was killed and four others were wounded in clashes that broke out amid the raid.

The two Israeli soldiers mistakenly entered the Qalandia refugee camp in the West Bank where they were pelted with rocks and firebombs, said Israeli military spokesman Brig. Gen. Motti Almoz.

They fled after their jeep caught fire, with one escaping to a nearby Jewish settlement and the other taking cover in the yard of a Palestinian family for about an hour before he was rescued by the Israeli troops amid heavy clashes. The military said it went into emergency mode because of concerns that one of the soldiers had been abducted.

The Palestinian Red Crescent identified the killed Palestinian man as university student Eyad Sajadiyeh, saying he was shot in the head during the fighting. The Israeli military said ten security personnel were wounded.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said the soldiers appeared to go astray by following Waze, the Israeli-developed global traffic app, which showed them the shortest route from Jerusalem to their destination in the West Bank. He said the incident would be investigated further to make sure such a situation would not repeat itself.

“I learned long ago, when the GPS was introduced, you can’t forget how to navigate using a map and you need to know your environment and not follow technology blindly,” Yaalon said.

Tuesday’s violence was the latest in over five months of near-daily Palestinian attacks on civilians and security forces that have killed 28 Israelis, mostly in stabbings, shootings and attacks where Palestinians used vehicles as weapons to ram into Israeli soldiers or civilians.

During the same time — since mid-September — at least 168 Palestinians have also been killed, most of them said by Israel to have been attackers. The rest died in clashes with troops.

Israel says the violence is fueled by a Palestinian campaign of lies and incitement, compounded on social media sites that glorify and encourage attacks. Palestinians say it stems from frustration at nearly five decades of Israeli rule and dwindling hopes for gaining independence.