Waze, the traffic app Google bought in 2013, dismissed the notion that it was to blame for a deadly firefight that began after two Israeli soldiers entered a Palestinian refugee camp in the occupied West Bank after being directed there by the Waze app. The misstep resulted in a clash that killed a Palestinian and left at least 15 people injured.
The soldiers had relied on Waze—which was founded in Israel—for directions; the app has a setting that warns users about areas that may be dangerous to traverse. In this particular case, the soldiers supposedly took the route that Waze claimed was the shortest, which ended up taking them directly into the refugee camp.
In a statement, Waze was quick to absolve itself of responsibility, noting that the soldiers had turned off a default feature that alerts users to regions deemed unsafe. From the statement:
[Waze] includes a specific default setting that prevents routes through areas which are marked as dangerous or prohibited for Israelis to drive through. In this case, the setting was disabled. In addition, the driver deviated from the suggested route and as a result, entered the prohibited area. There are also red signs on the road in question that prohibit access to Palestinian-controlled territories [for Israelis]. It is the responsibility of every driver to adhere to road and traffic signs and obey local laws.
According to comments made by Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, the soldiers were unfamiliar with the area, which may explain the confusion.
“Waze has and is continuing to work directly with the relevant authorities to decrease such mishaps from occurring, but unfortunately there is no ability to prevent them altogether as ultimately some prudence is in the driver’s hands,” the company continued.