The Israeli army is using facial recognition to track Palestinians, former soldiers reveal

According to a Washington Post report, the Israeli military has implemented a comprehensive facial recognition program in order to locate Palestinians living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The Post was told by ex-military personnel about "Blue Wolf," a smartphone that takes pictures of Palestinians and stores them into a large-scale database. Blue Wolf matches an image to a person stored in its database. Once the picture is taken, soldiers' smartphones will flash a particular color which indicates if the individual should be detained, arrested or left alone.

"People worry about fingerprinting. But this is something that has been done many times before."

The Post reports that the Israeli army has been adding thousands of photos of Palestinians to the database over the past two-years. It even ran "competitions" where soldiers were rewarded for taking the best photos of people. According to a former soldier, the database is basically a "Facebook" for Palestinians.

In Hebron, the Israeli military also installed cameras that scan Palestinian faces to identify them for soldiers at checkpoints. A series of CCTV cameras that can be accessed from inside people's homes provide 24/7 monitoring.

The Post reports that former soldiers were informed by the military that the surveillance system was in place to stop terrorist attacks. Israel's facial recognition system is dystopian in any case.

Hebron, the largest city in West Bank, has been at the center of bitter conflict between Israelis and Palestinians for many years. The Israeli military administers a large part of the city directly, imposing curfews on local residents and other restrictions on movement. The Post spoke with former soldiers who found the facial recognition system alarming, despite the fact that it was subject to extreme security measures.

A former soldier said to the Post that he wouldn't be comfortable if the fingerprints were taken in the mall in his hometown. "People worry about fingerprinting. But this is something that has happened many times."

There have been many similar systems in other countries. All have been controversial. China created a similar facial recognition system for monitoring the Uyghur minorities, but it is not clear how widespread the system was used. Moscow added facial recognition payment systems at hundreds of metro stations recently, while the UK introduced a similar face scanning payment system for schoolchildren at lunchtime.