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The brave new world of mapping occupied East Jerusalem

Israel/Palestine
on 31 Comments

While Israel seeks to brand Jerusalem as its eternal and undivided capital, the existence of 300,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites lays bare the apartheid reality of the self-proclaimed Jewish State’s claim. For Israeli military and security firms, occupied East Jerusalem’s unique situation presents unique opportunities to develop new methods of enforcing occupation.

Ofek Aerial Photography is one of these companies. This firm has sold a Google Street View-style mapping system to Israeli military and police agencies used to plan operations in occupied East Jerusalem to the smallest detail. Called mobile mapping, the technology can be used for anything from measurements for home demolitions to shooter-style video game simulations of full-force military invasions.

The mobile mapping system “acquires two main features, spherical imagery and 360 degrees that can show all the streets and allows you to put overlays and take measurements, and laser scanning that allows you to see the exact same area,” said Ori Isenberg, a representative of Ofek Aerial Photography who I spoke to at the Intelligence, Terror and Special Forces conference last week.

The system was particularly useful during the prolonged assault on Shuafat neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem last summer following the murder of the Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir. “There was no mapping in East Jerusalem,” Isenberg said. “They [Israeli military] didn’t know what the doors are made from, if you have bars on the windows, if you have some vehicle going through the street because it’s too narrow… When they type the coordinates of the house they see exactly what they need to see.”

The demand from Israeli agencies for this technology is so reliable that Ofek Aerial Photography mapped out occupied East Jerusalem unprompted. “We know that someone will buy it. In East Jerusalem we are doing it for free,” he said. “We do have all of Jerusalem, especially East Jerusalem.”

Isenberg described the range of his company’s clientele. “We have clients all over all the sectors,” Isenberg said. “[They are] very diverse, from military to not military.”

As Ofek Aerial Photography continues to photograph, there has been what Isenberg called a “commercial priority,” in mapping in occupied East Jerusalem and Palestinian areas inside Israel. As the company correctly predicted that maps of occupied East Jerusalem would be profitable, the same goes for any Palestinian area, regardless of which side of the Green Line they are on.

Isenberg hinted that the technology may be used to photograph the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. When I asked him if this is happening, he replied, “You are not the first one.” Military figures are in frequent contact with Ofek Aerial Photography. “The military, every few weeks they are coming, asking more questions [and] going back to think about it,” Isenberg said.

Ofek Aerial Photography also has contracts with the World Bank. “We have projects – now we are starting in Zambia. We just finished huge projects in Ghana,” Isenberg told me.

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Dan Cohen
About Dan Cohen

Dan Cohen is an independent journalist and filmmaker based in Palestine. He tweets at @dancohen3000.

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31 Responses

  1. just
    just
    July 16, 2015, 12:42 pm

    This sends shivers down my spine.

    Thanks Dan~ sounds like a great target for BDS.

    (P. S. It’ll soon be in your neighborhood, too…)

    Great title, Dan.

    • irishmoses
      irishmoses
      July 16, 2015, 4:40 pm

      I wouldn’t be surprised to see a connection between”Ofek Aerial Photography” and Google. They seem to be merely duplicating Google mapping and street view technology. I doubt Google would want its name attached to this activity being applied by an illegal occupier in occupied territories.

      Just, it won’t “soon be in your neighborhood, too…”, it already is, through Google.

      We had a really jaw dropping thing happen a few days back when we were in Dublin. I had sent an email to my daughter in Washington, DC, regarding our arrival times. The next day I received a predicted weather report on Google weather for DC referencing that email! I suspect I somehow gave Google the permission to link email text, and location, to Google weather reports to “enhance” my Google experience.

      I bought several bottles of Ireland’s finest whiskeys at the duty free store at Dublin airport. I won’t be surprised if I soon start receiving sale notices for Irish whiskey at my local liquor stores.

      It is really becoming very creepy and scary stuff. It’s enough to drive a man to drink.

      • Keith
        Keith
        July 16, 2015, 6:27 pm

        IRISHMOSES- “It is really becoming very creepy and scary stuff.”

        I doubt that most Mondoweissers have thought about or would agree with me that the internet, in conjunction with Google, Facebook, etc, has resulted in a quantum leap in imperial soft power.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        July 17, 2015, 5:30 am

        @ Keith

        Google Mapping and GMAIL linking are, inter alia, very much a tool of imperial power and domestic spying. One cannot escape it easily. I think most Mondoweisers would agree with me.

      • Keith
        Keith
        July 17, 2015, 2:46 pm

        CITIZEN- “I think most Mondoweisers would agree with me.”

        Perhaps so, however, those examples are just the tip of a massive iceberg. While some Americans are concerned with domestic surveillance, how many consider the implications for Russia, China, Iran or any Third World country? Russian VISA transactions are processed in the US, for example, the information more readily available to empire than Putin. Google probably has more data on Chinese internet users than the People’s Republic does. Further, the internet and social media have become the new mass media permitting those with economic power to more effectively tailor their propaganda to various groups. A catalyst for the Egyptian Arab Spring was the “We Are All Khaled Said” web page started by a Google marketing executive under the pseudonym “Elshaheeed” (The Martyr). The explosive growth of the commercial uses of the internet have made foreign countries and business as dependent upon this US controlled information highway as upon access to energy. And then there is the evolution of web based virtual social relationships with profound consequences. One consequence is the formation of virtual mobs with attendant mob psychology. As one contemplates the massive ramifications of all of this, it should be apparent that high speed computers and global telecommunications have brought changes that I couldn’t have imagined even a short time ago which have profoundly altered the dynamics of power. http://saskck.blogspot.com/2014/12/technology-power-and-social-control.html

  2. annie
    annie
    July 16, 2015, 2:21 pm

    always mapping. they did this in the decades leading up to the nakba. as we move into the future deranged minds will develop more and more deranged hi tech systems to facilitate strangling people. remember the gatekeepers movie. it’s so sadistic. can’t they figure out it inevitably leads to their own moral demise?

    • irishmoses
      irishmoses
      July 16, 2015, 4:20 pm

      This was a technique Palestine’s Zionist Jews learned from the British during the 1936-39 Arab Revolt. The Brits developed detailed intelligence files on each Palestinian village (the “village files”). It was a technique they used throughout the Empire to maintain colonial control. Adding Google Mapping technology just provides an enhancement to the file. The tools Israel uses to maintain control in its “occupied” territories, are largely derived from methods invented and used by the Brits in Palestine pre-1948.

      We just got back from a couple of weeks in Dublin. The Irish know well the oppressive techniques of the Brits. They invented the best method to combat such oppression, selective terrorism against British police, army units, and internal traitors. Eventually, the Irish got their freedom but only after accepting an unfair partition. There are a lot of parallels between the Irish and Palestinian struggles for self determination.

      Palestine’s Zionists used IRA terrorism tactics to convince the Brits they had no future in Palestine.

      • just
        just
        July 16, 2015, 4:33 pm

        Thanks for that. I hope that you had a lovely trip.

      • lysias
        lysias
        July 16, 2015, 4:37 pm

        They invented the best method to combat such oppression, selective terrorism against British police, army units, and internal traitors.

        The IRA violence in Ireland started against the Royal Irish Constabulary, the police force in Ireland made up of Irishmen, to a large extent Catholic Irishmen. They were serving what on paper was a democratic government, even if nationalists objected to it.

        The IRA’s tactic worked, and in the end it was probably worth it, since it did lead to Irish independence. But what happened to those members of the RIC was tragic. They were simple men just doing an ordinary job.

      • irishmoses
        irishmoses
        July 16, 2015, 5:40 pm

        Lysias said:
        “The IRA violence in Ireland started against the Royal Irish Constabulary, the police force in Ireland made up of Irishmen, to a large extent Catholic Irishmen. They were serving what on paper was a democratic government, even if nationalists objected to it.

        The IRA’s tactic worked, and in the end it was probably worth it, since it did lead to Irish independence. But what happened to those members of the RIC was tragic. They were simple men just doing an ordinary job.”

        Lysias, the many centuries of Irish struggle for independence is complicated and tragic. While my comments were oversimplifications of that complexity, I meant no offense and apologize for any taken.
        I was referring to the events of Bloody Sunday in which the IRA assassinated 14 British intelligence agents. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cairo_Gang.

        One of my all-time favorite authors, Erskine Childers, who wrote Riddle of the Sands, one of the first spy novels and a wonderful sailing yarn to boot, was executed by Irish anti-treaty forces during the subsequent Irish civil war because he agreed with Michael Collins that a treaty that gave the Irish their independence, even with the partition of 6 Irish counties into Northern Ireland, was the best deal available. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Riddle_of_the_Sands.

        Our recent two weeks in Dublin introduced us to a beautiful country and a wonderful people with a history going back some 5000 years.

        I could easily go on for pages and pages about my new found familiarity with Irish history, Irish music, Irish pubs, Irish archeology, Irish literary greats, etc. Instead, I’ll have my first dollop of Red Breast for this evening and attempt to educate my son-in-law about the true superiority of Irish whiskey over the Scotch “whisky” (the Scots forgot the “e” in whiskey) imitations to the east, across the Irish Sea.

      • lysias
        lysias
        July 16, 2015, 5:52 pm

        No offense taken.

      • gamal
        gamal
        July 16, 2015, 5:56 pm

        . “Instead, I’ll have my first dollop of Red Breast for this evening and attempt to educate my son-in-law about the true superiority of Irish whiskey”

        well once you’ve finished the cheap stuff get a bottle of Midleton “Very Old and Rare”, its worth it and has the great virtue of being constructed in Cork.

      • Citizen
        Citizen
        July 17, 2015, 5:32 am

        Yes, all very true.

      • annie
        annie
        July 17, 2015, 5:55 pm

        thanks irish moses. as a matter of fact i got a little carried away recently reading up on irish history. there’s always new stuff i read about ireland i don’t think i could learn it all if i spent a lifetime –. thanks for your comment.

  3. just
    just
    July 16, 2015, 2:40 pm

    Via Dan Cohen:

    “My previously unaired footage from Gaza appears in this @ajplus video w @MaxBlumenthal discussing the war & aftermath”

    https://twitter.com/dancohen3000

  4. barraos
    barraos
    July 17, 2015, 10:06 am

    I wish irishmoses well in his explorations of Irish history and whiskey but… Erskine Childers was executed by the pro-Treaty government forces. He was against compromise and thus against Michael Collins’s position.
    On a more general point, a section of the Irish public is supportive of the Palestinian cause for historical reasons amongst others, but there has been some exaggeration of this point in some of your recent postings.
    Conor Cruise O’Brien wrote a massive history of Israel from a Zionist point of view. Ireland’s leading Sunday newspaper (the awful Sunday Independent) has been spouting pro-Israeli and neo-con propaganda for years. Though there was a temporary shift in position as the horrors of the assault on Gaza unfolded last year, current affairs interviewers generally start from a typical Anglo-American perspective. And a substantial section of the Irish middle class has no interest in being reminded of either Ireland’s past or the present-day oppression of Palestinians.

    • irishmoses
      irishmoses
      July 17, 2015, 4:44 pm

      I stand corrected. Childers was a critical figure in the negotiation of the treaty but turned against its final provisions. He was a close friend of Michael Collins and suffered the same fate. Complicated business.

      While I was in Dublin, a pro-Palestinian Irish organization planted 500 small sails in the tidal sands of the Sandymount strand symbolizing the more than 500 children killed by Israel during the 2014 Gaza war. They also succeeded in convincing the Irish folk dance group to cancel their trip to Israel to participate in an Irish dance festival. Unfortunately, a panel on the Palestinian issue planned for Trinity College was mysteriously removed from the schedule. I had hoped to see the panel discussion and meet some of the organizers and participants.

      • just
        just
        July 17, 2015, 4:49 pm

        irishmoses~ you might be interested in these fine articles:

        “Irish activists hit hard against 1st Irish dance competition in Israel” – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2015/06/activists-against-competition#sthash.e5INktdc.dpuf

        “Following boycott campaign, 1st Israeli Feis attempts to smear activists as it cancels performance” – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/?s=feis#sthash.3cQTTEBK.dpuf

        “Lies, smear, and two-steps — Why did organizers really cancel the Feis?” – See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/?s=feis#sthash.3cQTTEBK.dpuf

      • annie
        annie
        July 17, 2015, 5:26 pm

        oh thank you just! i didn’t see you posted that before writing my last comment.

      • just
        just
        July 17, 2015, 5:38 pm

        ;-) You did such wonderful work on this, Annie! So did Stan. Kudos on the well- deserved credit at IPSC!

        (Love your tweet and call to action wrt Susiya!)

      • annie
        annie
        July 17, 2015, 5:40 pm

        ;) love you just, and i don’t tell you enough. your positive energy goes a long way in brightening my day — and this blog.

        that goes for others too (of course!)… just thought i’d give you a shout out.

        (and stan massively rocks, could not have written feis articles without him — goes without saying)

      • just
        just
        July 17, 2015, 5:47 pm

        How very kind of you, Annie. *mwah*

        You, and so many others here, have made this journey much less lonely than it used to be, and have enriched me immeasurably. Like Dan Cohen and his articles~ he’s amazing.

        (Brought tears to my eyes~ thank you. I laugh and I tear up, but I always learn here.)

      • socialconscience
        socialconscience
        July 19, 2015, 4:30 am

        Memorial in Dublin to the children of Gaza murdered in operation protective edge. 1 year on…

        http://mashable.com/2015/07/09/gaza-installation-dublin/

      • irishmoses
        irishmoses
        July 19, 2015, 10:06 am

        I wonder how big a part religion actually played in the Irish revolution. It seems like it was more about British colonial rule than religion. I think the same holds true with the so-called war against terrorism. The problem isn’t caused by religion, it’s caused by the West’s (particularly the US’) presence and interference in the the area. OBL made that pretty clear in all of his statements. I think it’s convenient to blame religion (“radical Islam”) as the cause of the conflict because we then don’t have to look at and take responsibility for our own actions as the cause of the conflict.

        Couldn’t the same be said for the troubles in Northern Ireland? It seems to me to be about ending partition not religion. Religion is a useful symbol and rallying point but isn’t it really about whether the Brits can still hold onto a slice of Ireland?

      • irishmoses
        irishmoses
        July 19, 2015, 10:10 am

        Thank you Socialconscience for the link and pictures. That took place right outside the door of the apartment we rented in Sandymount.

  5. Boo
    Boo
    July 17, 2015, 1:54 pm

    I wonder if Ofek has photographed, mapped and released the data for its own address — or whether it’s blurred it out the way Google Maps does with some of the “sensitive sites” in the US. Prudence, needless to say, would dictate the latter course of action.

  6. barraos
    barraos
    July 17, 2015, 5:14 pm

    No problem – it is a very complicated story.

    The display on the sands was indeed touching. I don’t know about the cancelled discussion at Trinity College but the IPSC site has an article on the unprofessional way the media dealt with the Feis issue:
    http://www.ipsc.ie/press-releases/lies-damned-lies-and-the-mainstream-media-the-curious-case-of-the-cancellation-of-the-israeli-feis

    • annie
      annie
      July 17, 2015, 5:25 pm

      thank you. not sure if you noticed IPSC cited our article in their press release and linked to it at the base. http://mondoweiss.net/2015/07/organizers-really-cancel that was a real honor.

      • barraos
        barraos
        July 17, 2015, 5:34 pm

        Had noticed but thought you’d enjoy coming across it.
        Apologies for misplacing my comment – it should have been linked directly to irishmoses.

      • annie
        annie
        July 17, 2015, 5:44 pm

        no worries. IPSC and i follow each other on twitter and they alerted me as soon as it went up.. i told them how honored i was in my response. in this movement, i don’t feel like we’re far apart just because ireland is so far away. that was a stunning success of #BDS activism and i’m a huge fan of irish activism and the irish people. i want to go back there someday, i loved it.

        anyway, we should probably not get too far OT on this thread. thank you again.

  7. socialconscience
    socialconscience
    July 19, 2015, 5:44 am

    Lysias in reference to your comment:

    ”The IRA violence in Ireland started against the Royal Irish Constabulary, the police force in Ireland made up of Irishmen, to a large extent Catholic Irishmen. They were serving what on paper was a democratic government, even if nationalists objected to it.

    The IRA’s tactic worked, and in the end it was probably worth it, since it did lead to Irish independence. But what happened to those members of the RIC was tragic. They were simple men just doing an ordinary job.”

    You paper over some gaping crevasses here….are you deliberately aiming to mislead??

    – The RIC constables were indeed mostly Catholic. However almost all of the officers protestant thus protestant controlled

    – They formed a major part of the British armed forces of the occupation with over 8500 members by the mid 19th century

    – the very best examples of ‘the case against’ the RIC was their role in enforcing eviction notices.
    This was the process whereby landlords (many of whom were British aristocracy across the pond) set untenable conditions of rent on the tenant farmers such as exorbitant rent.
    Thus forces of the crown often including the RIC did the dirty work – eviction!

    It is indisputable fact that The RIC were protagonists of this draconian regime of oppression against the catholic majority of Ireland

    Quite laughable you refer to ‘what was on paper a democratic government’….who are you kidding?

    The British forces of occupation did not everyone on the island of ireland to vote until the civil rights movement of the 1960s

    What happened to a number of people in Ireland that is impossible to count was tragic.

    In this I’d include some RIC members, however, describing just simple men doing and ordinary job is quite ridiculous.

    It would be no less laughable to suggest that those poor IDF conscripts throughout palestine are just ahmmm serving their country……or their duty..or their job……nonsense

    The peaceful and violent means of resistance to John Bull constituted parts too important to measure in the struggle of the Irish people against the forces of institutionalised oppression and colonialism

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