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Author Topic: Google Earth used to target Israel  (Read 2503 times)

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Google Earth used to target Israel
« on: 26. October 2007., 00:42:59 »
Palestinian militants are using Google Earth to help plan their attacks on the Israeli military and other targets, the Guardian has learned

Palestinian militants are using Google Earth to help plan their attacks on the Israeli military and other targets, the Guardian has learned.
Members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a group aligned with the Fatah political party, say they use the popular internet mapping tool to help determine their targets for rocket strikes.

"We obtain the details from Google Earth and check them against our maps of the city centre and sensitive areas," Khaled Jaabari, the group's commander in Gaza who is known as Abu Walid, told the Guardian.

Abu Walid showed the Guardian an aerial image of the Israeli town of Sderot on his computer to demonstrate how his group searches for targets.

The Guardian filmed an al-Aqsa test rocket launch, fired into an uninhabited area of the Negev desert, last month. Despite the crudeness of the weapons, many have landed in Sderot, killing around a dozen people in the last three years and wounding scores more.

Al-Aqsa is one of several militant groups firing rockets, known as Qassams, from Gaza into Israel. A rocket attack by Islamic Jihad on a military base last month wounded more than 50 soldiers. Hamas's military wing, the Izzedine Qassam Brigades, is not believed to be firing rockets.

Abu Walid insists there is no contradiction between his group's actions and talk of peace by Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah's leader.

Bringing up archive footage of rocket launches on his computer, he said that the group had modified the homemade rockets to travel longer distances by cultivating salt from the sea. "It's a secret process, but we're very excited by the results."

The Google Earth mapping program includes satellite maps and detailed 3D models of some areas. Although the satellite images are only updated on an irregular basis - meaning that pictures of mobile targets would be unusable - some defence experts have said the easy availability of information can increase the risks for military organisations.

"There is a constant threat of reconnaissance missions to access our bases and using these internet images is just another method of how this is conducted," said British military spokesman Major Charlie Burbridge earlier this year.

It is not the first time that Google has been accused of unwittingly abetting the activities of militant groups or terrorist organisations. In January, British officials claimed that insurgents sympathetic to al-Qaida were using aerial photography in Google Earth to locate potential targets inside British bases around the southern Iraqi city of Basra.

When asked about the use of Google Earth by al-Aqsa militants, Google said it was aware of potential problems, but would not comment specifically on the case. "We have paid close attention to concerns that Google Earth creates new security risks," said the company in a statement. "The imagery visible on Google Earth and Google Maps is not unique: commercial high-resolution satellite and aerial imagery of every country in the world is widely available from numerous sources. Indeed, anyone who flies above or drives by a piece of property can obtain similar information."

The company would not confirm whether it had received requests from the Israeli government to block certain images or areas inside Google Earth, but said it was committed to working with officials to take public safety into account.

"Google has engaged, and will continue to engage, in substantive dialogue with recognised security experts and relevant agencies worldwide," it said.

(Copyright by Guardian Unlimited)

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Google Earth used to target Israel
« on: 26. October 2007., 00:42:59 »


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