TEL AVIV – A spokesperson for the company confirmed to Insider on Tuesday that Google has ceased providing live traffic updates in Israel and the Gaza Strip amidst the ongoing conflict.
According to Bloomberg’s report, both Google Maps and Waze have been impacted by a change made at the request of the Israel Defense Forces.
In consideration for the safety of local communities, Google has temporarily disabled the live traffic conditions and busyness information feature in conflict situations and in response to the changing situation in the region. A spokesperson for Google informed Insider that despite this, users will still receive routes and estimated time of arrival that factor in the current traffic conditions when navigating to a specific location.
In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Google took a comparable measure by disabling live traffic updates within the country. This was allegedly done to prevent the apps from being utilized to monitor military activities.
Israel’s military response to the October 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, has resulted in an ongoing escalation of the conflict. As of October 23, the death toll stands at over 5,000 Palestinian residents in Gaza by Israeli bombing and over 1,400 Israelis. Additionally, approximately 15,273 Palestinians have been injured in Gaza, while more than 5,400 Israelis have also sustained injuries during this period of time.
The anticipated ground invasion by Israel into Gaza has prompted the most recent change in Google Maps and Waze. This alteration takes into consideration the potential impact on traffic that could arise from troop movements in such a scenario.
Google Maps‘ live traffic updates function by retrieving data from smartphones equipped with the application. Utilizing location tracking, it assesses the number of vehicles present on a specific road and their respective velocities. Users who have installed the app can receive real-time notifications regarding the severity of traffic congestion in a particular vicinity.
Those located in the vicinity can continue to utilize Google Maps and Waze for navigational purposes. Nevertheless, it is advisable for American citizens to exercise caution when considering travel to the conflict zone. The US Department of State strongly recommends that Americans “reconsider” their travel plans to Israel and the West Bank, and completely avoid traveling to Gaza. In recent weeks, over 40 airlines have cancelled flights from North America to Israel.