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Navigation App Waze Leads Israeli Soldiers Into Palestinian Camp

Law Enforcement Officials Unhappy With WAZE GPS ApppLaw Enforcement Officials Unhappy With WAZE GPS Appp
Screen view of the Waze traffic GPS app on an iPhone. The application gives users real time traffic GPS service, the ability to crowd-source report on road hazards, standstill traffic, police activity, and photo traffic cameras. Photograph by Linda Davidson — The Washington Post/Getty Images

In theory, sophisticated navigation tools are supposed to help people safely and efficiently get to their destination—except when they cause the opposite.

On Monday evening, a fight broke out at a refugee camp in the West Bank after two Israeli soldiers mistakenly entered the area while using Google-owned Israeli navigation app Waze, according to media reports. The clashes left at least one Palestinian dead and 10 injured, and at least 10 Israeli soldiers were injured too.

According to reports, the two Israeli soldiers were from a non-combatant unit and were using the Waze app to get around.

Acquired by Google (GOOG) in 2013, Waze uses both traditional GPS navigation, as well as user-submitted information about road accidents, closures, and so on. The app also has feature to “avoid dangerous areas,” which mostly relies on this user-submitted data, though it becomes less effective in areas where the app isn’t used as widely.

However, according to a statement from Waze to Agence France-Presse on Tuesday, the setting had been turned off on the device the soldiers used to run the app. But it remains unclear how or why exactly the soldiers ended up at the refugee camp.

Backup units of soldiers and the Israeli police located one of the soldiers, who had a phone within him, within 30 minutes, according to reports. The other soldier was found about an hour later near an Israeli settlement.