Wrong Waze: App Leads Israeli Troops to Palestinian Camp Sparking 'Hannibal' Rescue Operation

IDF Waze Middle East Israel
Armed and masked Palestinian militants raise their weapons during the funeral of Mohammad Abu Latifa in the Qalandia refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah on July 27, 2015. Clashes erupted in the camp after two IDF soldiers mistakenly entered the area. Abbas Momani/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli forces shot and killed one Palestinian and injured several more in clashes late Monday during a rescue attempt of two soldiers who were misled into a Palestinian refugee camp by the Google-owned navigation app Waze.

The Israeli military said that the two male soldiers had mistakenly entered the Qalandia refugee camp when Palestinians firebombed their vehicle, forcing them to exit the vehicle and trigger a rescue operation.

The soldiers fled in separate directions, with one contacting his commanders immediately, leading to his rescue within 30 minutes, and the other not making contact for an hour. The two soldiers were "successfully contacted and extracted" from the refugee camp during the operation, the military said in a statement to Newsweek.

A 22-year-old Palestinian man, identified as Iyad Amr Sajdiyeh, died of gunshot wounds during the clashes, the Palestinian Red Crescent told Reuters. Ten Israeli security forces were also injured.

The military activated the controversial Hannibal Directive, according to Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, a measure that allows commanders to take necessary action to prevent the abduction of a soldier and the escape of the captors, putting the soldier and surrounding civilians in mortal danger. It is believed to be named after the Carthaginian general who killed himself with poison rather than be captured by the Romans.

The two men, an army driver and squad commander from the military's Oketz unit, were using the GPS app instead of conventional maps, according to an initial IDF investigation and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.

"The soldiers were apparently using Waze," Yaalon said on Tuesday. "I learned ages ago the importance of navigating with the aid of a real map, and mainly to know the surrounding area and not to rely too heavily on technology which can lead the user astray."

Spokeswoman for Waze, Julie Mossler, told Newsweek that the app has a setting that avoids routes into Palestinian-controlled territories, saying that the soldiers did not use the feature.

"The Waze application includes a specific default setting that prevents routes through areas which are marked as dangerous or prohibited for Israelis to drive through," Mossler says in an email statement. "In this case, the setting was disabled. In addition, the driver deviated from the suggested route and as a result, entered the prohibited area."

Mossler continues: "Waze has and is continuing to work directly with the relevant authorities to decrease such mishaps from occurring, but unfortunately there is no ability to prevent them altogether as ultimately some prudence is in the driver's hands."

The Israeli military, which would not comment on the Waze App, added: "Overnight, a mob attacked a military vehicle in the Qalandia refugee camp. Rocks and molotov cocktails were hurled at the vehicle, setting it ablaze. There were two soldiers inside the vehicle who escaped on foot. The IDF conducted an extensive search to extract the soldiers.

"During the extraction, riots broke out. Rioters opened fire at the forces, hurled IEDs at them and continued to hurl rocks and molotov cocktails at them. Security forces fired towards the direction of the fire. Several security forces were injured during the riot."