The Israeli occupation government has advanced a law to install facial recognition cameras in public areas of Palestinian towns in 1948-occupied territories under the pretext of “combating crime.”
The law is advocated by the far-right Israeli Minister of National Security, known as “Minister of Chaos”, Itamar Ben Gvir, and the Israeli Judiciary Minister, Yariv Levin, under which they permit the Israeli police to use facial recognition cameras in public, including protest and demonstration venus, claiming they come with legislative procedures aimed at addressing crimes within the 1948-occupied Palestinian communities.
However, Palestinian residents are concerned that the vague wording of the law may be used as a cover for invading their privacy and subjecting them to surveillance, with the absence of an independent oversight authority.
The Homicides in the 1948-occupied territories, which occur on a daily basis with an average of two to three crimes per day, are believed to have been organized by Israeli gangs themselves to destabilize these communities. More than 167 persons, including women, have been killed since the 2023 outset, and 215 individuals lost their lives due to these crimes over the past two years.
The so-called Israeli Ministerial Legislation Committee discussed the draft law on Monday, specifying that utilizing these cameras will be approved by an Israeli police officer, without specifying his rank. This marks the first time that the Israeli police will have access to this technology after it was previously only available to the Israeli security agency, known as “Shin Bet.”
A report by the Hebrew newspaper “Haaretz”, came just days after releasing the draft law, revealed that Israeli companies have developed technologies for spying on individuals using online advertising platforms.
According to Haaretz, the newly invasive developed technologies involve the installation of spyware or malicious content inside individuals’ phones. This spyware infiltrates the device every time the person accesses an application or website on the internet, all without the user’s consent or awareness.
Despite that crime prevention has been viewed as a pretext, these measures are cautious concerns voiced by Palestinian experts, raising questions about whether this is the most suitable solution to address the issue or if there are other, more rights-respecting ways to tackle crime.
This law draft has stirred controversy among Palestinian residents in 1948-occupied territories and raised concerns about their personal freedoms and rights.
Walid Haddad, a specialist in criminology, said “These recognition cameras have been used for years for security and information-gathering purposes in lands under the Palestinian Authority control.”
“These cameras have played a significant role in identifying individuals involved in specific events, and have uncovered several security-related cases,” he added.
However, “This is what we were concerned about: turning the issue of civilian crimes into a security matter. This poses a security threat to us as Palestinians, even if ‘Israel’ claims that the situation in the 1948-occupied territories is different from the West Bank and Jerusalem.”
He warned that if solutions to these rampant crimes were not suggested by a Palestinian party, the Israeli government would fraudulently exploit the issue to turn our lives into a vulnerable security circle.”
Violation of Palestinians’ Personal Lives
Haddad believed such cameras would violate the personal life as well as the freedom of Palestinians inside 1948-occupied lands, constantly monitoring them as if they were criminals.
He pointed out that these cameras are exclusively installed to monitor the Palestinian community, ruling out the Jewish communities, at a time when crime poses a strategic threat to all people. Therefore, he reached a point that the cameras’ purposes are primarily security-related, rather than solely focused on combating crime.
Recent Hebrew reports spotted lights on Shin Bet’s attempts to foster criminal gangs within the Palestinian 1948 community as part of a systematic plan to harm the Palestinians.
The espionage tools developed by Israeli companies, as Haddad asserted, have been now embedded into simple applications on Palestinians’ phones, including weather apps, games, and others. Any word written or any app opened turns the phone owner or internet browser into a monitored space.
These applications are the easiest and simplest ways to capture and investigate many individuals by Israeli security agencies, including the “Shin Bet”.