Israel is increasingly deploying facial recognition technology to monitor Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. This is what Amnesty International says in a new report. According to the human rights organization, the technology is used, among other things, at important checkpoints that Palestinians have to go through to get from one area to another.
In the report, Amnesty describes the use of several military surveillance systems, including the experimental Red Wolf. Palestinians attempting to bypass a checkpoint will face face scanning. Israeli soldiers are then shown a color code that identifies whether a person can be let through or not, according to Amnesty International.
If the system fails to identify a person, personal data is entered manually by the military. Thus the (biometrics) database will continue to expand. Amnesty International concluded that “in both Hebron and occupied East Jerusalem, facial recognition technology supports a closed network of surveillance cameras to monitor Palestinians almost constantly.”
According to Amnesty International, the technology is mainly used against the Palestinians: this is how the organization speaks of “automated apartheid”. Israel reacted angrily last year when Amnesty International accused it of apartheid, the system of apartheid that South Africa has used for years.
According to the Israeli government, camera surveillance is necessary to ensure safety. For example, it aims to prevent attacks. But according to the report, Palestinians’ freedom of movement is severely restricted due to facial recognition technology. The researchers base their conclusions on the testimonies of both Palestinians and former Israeli soldiers.
“I am watching all the time,” Palestinian Nada was quoted as saying. “It makes me feel really bad all over the street. Whenever I see a camera, I feel anxious. Like you’re always being treated like a target.”
In 2021, the American Washington Post wrote that Israel was building Database It contains large numbers of pictures of the Palestinians.
Cameras from a Dutch company
The human rights organization also writes that cameras from a Dutch company have been “discovered” in public places and police infrastructure. It’s about cameras from TKH Security.
In a statement to NOS, the company said that these are TKH Security CCTV cameras, which were supplied via a distributor. “TKH Security has no business relationship with the Israeli security services.” The tech company also notes that it has no access to the cameras or systems.
A Chinese company was also said to have supplied facial recognition cameras to Israel. She urged the head of Amnesty International, Agnes Callamard, to “stop providing the technologies that the Israeli authorities use to maintain illegal settlements”.
In a statement in The American newspaper The New York Times The Israeli army says it only conducted “necessary security and intelligence operations”. At the same time, we are doing our best to limit the consequences for the Palestinian population.” In its statement, the army did not comment on the content of the report.
Amnesty International said that this technology is being deployed in the occupied West Bank which Israel has occupied since 1967. What exactly does this occupation mean and what does it mean for the Palestinians who live here? You can see that in this video:
What does the occupation of the West Bank mean for its residents?
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