Israel uses facial recognition in drive to turn West Bank into a concentration camp


ISRAEL has escalated its campaign of total surveillance of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank utilising a mass programme of facial recognition to build a database of every Palestinian in the West Bank city of Hebron.

On Monday, the Washington Post reported that the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) is monitoring the entire Palestinian population of the city of Hebron using integrated facial recognition with an all-encompassing network of cameras and smartphones.

This surveillance campaign has been carried out for over two years using the smartphone technology called Blue Wolf.

Blue Wolf captures photos of Palestinian faces which are then matched to a database of images. The Blue Wolf phone app, installed on the smartphones of IDF soldiers, flashes different colours to alert the soldier if a Palestinian is to be detained, arrested or ignored.

All photos taken by soldiers are uploaded to the data base with soldiers incentivised to take as many pictures of Palestinians as possible and prizes given for the most pictures taken, including those of children.

The scope and details of this mass surveillance campaign were revealed to the Israeli advocacy group ‘Breaking Silence’ (later shared with the Post) an organisation of former Israeli soldiers opposed to the occupation of Palestine.

Alongside IDF soldiers taking pictures on their phones of every Palestinian man, woman and child that they see on the streets, Israel has also installed ‘face scanning cameras’ throughout Hebron.

According to the Washington Post, ‘A wider network of closed-circuit television cameras, dubbed “Hebron Smart City”, provides real-time monitoring of the city’s population, and one former soldier said, can sometimes see into private homes.’

One of the Israeli whistle-blowers told the Post the surveillance system in Hebron was a ‘total violation of privacy of an entire people.’

A Palestinian resident of Hebron, Yaser Abu Markhya said ‘we no longer feel comfortable socialising because cameras are always filming us.’

In fact according to one of the whistle-blowers, the Blue Wolf programme is a ‘pared down version of another vast database called Wolf Pack’ which is designed to build ‘profiles of virtually every Palestinian in the West Bank, including photographs of the individuals, their family histories, education and a security rating for each person.’

Not just the Israeli military is being armed with the latest face recognition technology to achieve mass surveillance of the entire Palestinian population of Hebron, the Post reveals that ‘a separate smartphone app, called White Wolf, has been developed for use by Jewish settlers in the West Bank.’

There is to be total surveillance of every Palestinian man, woman and child on the streets and in their homes by the Israeli state military, intelligence and Zionist settlers.

According to experts at the digital civil rights organisation, the use of Blue Wolf and the entire facial recognition programme is the most elaborate deployment of digital technology by a country attempting to control a subject population.

Constant surveillance is aimed at turning Hebron and the occupied West Bank into one massive concentration camp, with its occupants policed night and day and subject to detention or imprisonment and torture at the hands of the Zionist regime.

However, all the total surveillance and attempts to turn Palestine into a giant concentration camp will fail to smash the determination of the Palestinian people to fight for their own independent state of Palestine.

The Zionists have been unable to inflict any military defeat on the Palestinians despite their ‘mighty’ armed forces, on the contrary they have been driven back in Gaza and humiliated by the resistance of Palestinian prisoners who escaped out of their securest prisons using spoons.

The Palestinian refusal to submit and to fight has won the overwhelming support of the working class and its trade unions in Britain and across the world.

This support must be transformed into action for the demand that the trade unions call a general strike to support Palestine by kicking out this Tory government that slavishly supports the Zionist regime and going forward to a workers’ government that will recognise and give all the support required to establish an independent state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.