Sunday, April 22, 2012

You Can Now Google The Streets of Israel

It took quite some time, but you can now finally (if you want to) get a street view of Israel's main cities. For now, the popular Street View service is limited to the country's three largest cities.
It will give you insight into  ordinary life in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa. Needless to say, due to security issues, areas around several sensitive sites (e.g., military headquartersand the PM's residence) are blurred out.

Google Street View was held up in Israel due to concerns that images of its streets could be used by terrorists. The Islamic Jihad militant group in Gaza for one has boasted that it used Google Earth to aim rockets at Israel.

In August 2011, after a panel of government ministers met for six months to draft security guidelines, Israel announced it had reached an agreement with Google.

Israel is the first Middle Eastern nation to display its cities and streets online. Iraq's National Museum is also available on Street View.

Images show typical street scenes, including bicycles chained to the gates of apartment gardens in Tel Aviv, tourists sunbathing on Haifa's beaches, and the crowded Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem's Old City.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said that militants know the city well even without the Google service.
He also stated that other urban military installations (e.g., the Pentagon outside Washington) were also was left off Street View.

However, not all Israelis are happy with Google Street View. Retired Lt. Col. Mordechai Kedar, who served for 25 years in Israeli intelligence, thinks that he service would be a boon to militants seeking to attack Israel. "They will use it daily," Kedar said. "Every day Street View is online, it's causing damage."

Google Israel's country manager, Meir Brand, said additional cities will soon join Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa, including Beersheba, Nazareth and Eilat.

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