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Google defies calls to update low-resolution imagery of Gaza after Israeli raid

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Google says it will not update its blurry images of the besieged Gaza.

Google says it has “no plans” to update low-resolution satellite imagery of the occupied territories and the besieged Gaza Strip, hindering the work of conflict researchers.

A 1997 amendment to the US national defense authorization act, called the Kyl-Bingaman Amendment, restricted the use of satellite imagery in the occupied lands and Gaza to two metres per pixel, citing security concerns at the time.

Last year, however, the amendment was revised to allow for greater resolution of the area.

Over the past 11 days, Israel warplanes bombarded residential buildings in Gaza, killing 248 Palestinians, including 66 children and 39 women, and injuring 1,910 others.

On Friday, conflict researchers told the Middle East Eye (MEE) news portal that it would be difficult to understand the true damage caused by the Israeli aerial assaults on Gaza because many open source mapping tools have failed to update their maps with high-resolution imagery.

In response, Google said that it considers "opportunities to refresh our satellite imagery as higher resolution imagery becomes available” but that it has "no plans to share at this time.”

A Palestinian woman sits in the demolished ruins of her home bombed by an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza on May 21, 2021. (Photo by Middle East Eye)

This is while researchers need to have access to high-quality images to confirm what buildings or areas were targeted in the Israeli aggression.

Marwa Fatafta, a policy analyst at the Palestinian policy network al-Shabaka, said Google’s decision was not surprising, considering that the tech giant is "lending its cloud service to the Israeli government & their military apparatus.”

Earlier this year, Google, along with Amazon Web Services, was awarded a $1.2 billion offer to provide cloud services to Israeli regime agencies.


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