A front-page Washington Post article, “Israel targets Palestinians with cameras, facial tracking” (11/9/21), which includes a full inside page and as many as four photographs, looks like a startling scoop about Israeli misuse of facial recognition technology. One must journey to the end of the overwrought expose to realize the anticlimactic truth that Israel’s facial recognition practices are not only lawful but similar to those of the US and other democracies worldwide.
The article describes how Israel is using facial recognition to identify Palestinians. The Post article acknowledges that the former Israeli soldiers who “broke” this story “were told by the military that the efforts were a powerful augmentation of its capabilities to defend Israel against terrorists.”
After that, the bulk of the article is a series of attempts to demonize Israel with claims that the high-tech monitoring violates Palestinian human rights and rights to privacy. The report does not cite any human rights law or privacy law that might be breached. Nor does it disclose that Israel observes the same high standards of privacy protection as the European Union.
However, if the reader is able to wade through the article to paragraph 35, then they will get critical details to understand the Israeli program. The Post states that “The Israeli system is used to check whether a Palestinian has a permit to enter Israel, for example to work or to visit relatives, and to keep track of who is entering the country, according to news reports. This check is obligatory for Palestinians, as is the check at American airports for foreigners.” Scratching my head…so that’s what this fuss is about?
The Post adds that “Unlike the border checks, the monitoring…” is also happening in the West Bank Palestinian city of Hebron. Hebron is one of the most dangerous flashpoints in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and is the home of the Caves of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, – a holy site in both Islam and Judaism. Hebron is also a stronghold of the terrorist group Hamas. One cannot stress enough that Israel suffers more terrorist attacks or attempted attacks than any other country in the world.
Israel has no need to apologize for protecting their citizens and soldiers, especially with non-violent surveillance. Most countries protect public safety with the same technology. Why did the Post single out Israel?