By Hagar Shezaf, Haaretz

Israeli soldiers have been involved in an organized effort to take photos of Palestinian residents of the West Bank town of Hebron and have even competed with one another to provide the photos for a facial recognition database being used to monitor Palestinians.

According to a Washington Post investigative report published Monday, over the past two years, Israeli soldiers have begun using a facial recognition smartphone technology called Blue Wolf to take pictures of Palestinians’ faces and cross-reference them against a database of other photos. The app then alerts the soldier whether individuals should be detained based on prior information about them.

A computer generated face has its picture taken by a phone with the Palestine and Israel flags in the background
Photo by Mike MacKenzie

In the course of the creation of the database, soldiers photographed Palestinians and even competed with one another over the number of pictures that they took. It is thought that the database contains thousands of photos, the Post stated.

One soldier quoted by the Post recounted how last year, his unit was tasked with taking pictures of as many Palestinians as possible in Hebron using old army smartphones.

The Washington Post’s report was also based on information supplied by Breaking the Silence, an organization of Israeli army veterans that exposes army abuses committed in the occupied territories.

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