On Tuesday, Amnesty International released a report demonstrating the Israeli attempts to set up state-of-the-art facial recognition technology at checkpoints in Hebron, a West Bank city, to acquire biometric info from Palestinians.
The report on the Israeli surveillance in the West Bank reveals that a system referred to as Red Wolf is surreptitiously scanning the faces of Palestinians and compiling their biometric information to construct a database for the whole population.
Amnesty International, in their report named Automated Apartheid, has urged the international community to set up laws that would forbid companies from providing the Israeli occupation with surveillance technology.
Their report affirms that “Israeli authorities are using facial recognition technology to maintain apartheid”. The organization also demands a universal embargo on the sale of weaponry and military provisions to the Israeli occupation.
It has been previously reported by the media that the Israeli occupation has employed facial recognition technologies in the West Bank and Hebron; however, the current report offers fresh details about the sophisticated system set up at checkpoints within the city.
The report says that when Palestinians pass through a checkpoint with Red Wolf in place, their faces are scanned and checked against biometric records in databases that only store information about Palestinians, without their knowledge or permission. If there is no existing record for someone, their face is scanned and stored in the system automatically.
The report indicates that a Palestinian may be denied passage through a checkpoint if there is no record of them being allowed entry. Additionally, the system could refuse entry based on other data linked to Palestinian profiles, such as if an individual is wanted for questioning or arrest.
A former Israel Defense Forces soldier, who was testified by the Breaking the Silence organization about the Red Wolf system, was quoted in the report. Apparently, at each checkpoint, there are approximately 10 to 15 cameras. As soon as the Palestinians get there and go through the checkpoint, their picture is taken and they are identified.
The report states that there is considerable proof suggesting a connection between Red Wolf, Wolf Pack, and Blue Wolf. Wolf Pack is a database that aggregates data on Palestinians living in the West Bank, while Blue Wolf is an app usable on smartphones that has access to the Wolf Pack database, and can recognize Palestinians by facial recognition or using their ID number.
This report also reveals the extensive security system of thousands of CCTV cameras in East Jerusalem that the Israeli occupation maintains. It is said that the amount of cameras placed in the Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan areas rose markedly after the launch of the aggression on Gaza in May 2021.
Agnès Callamard, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, commented on the report, saying that the Israeli authorities are leveraging advanced surveillance technology to deepen segregation and intensify the apartheid imposed on Palestinians. Particularly in the H2 region of Hebron, the organization found evidence of the Red Wolf facial recognition system being employed to limit Palestinians’ freedom of movement by monitoring their movements in the city using unlawfully obtained biometric data.
In response to Amnesty’s report, Breaking the Silence commented that the occupation extends beyond roadblocks, arrests, and home invasions, but has evolved into a more sophisticated and discreet form of control and repression as it has gone on.
Tags Amnesty Israel Occupation Palestine