Google Street View Now Covers Much of Israel

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View Larger Map  (Old Cemetery in Tzfat – Kivrei Tzadikim)

Google users can see now hundreds of towns, villages, and historical sites in Israel, as Google implemented a large expansion of its Street View service.

Google launched its first Street View imagery in Israel in April 2012, but the collection was rather limited at the time and mostly focused on Jerusalem , Tel Aviv, Haifa, Kfar Kama, Merhavia, Nahsholim and Beer Sheva. The service now includes most of Israel’s large and medium sized towns, many villages in central Israel and the Galilee, and historical and tourist sites such as the Dead Sea, the coral reefs of Eilat, the Dead Sea, Megiddo, and many more.

Judea and Samaria was not included in the update. Until recently, Google Maps would not display directions for drivers travelling to or from points in Judea and Samaria from the rest of Israel.

Google Street View is an add-on to Google Maps, which shows a photo of streets and sites at ground view. Users can check out neighbourhoods and sites before they visit, giving them a good idea of what the descriptions in marketing brochures of neighbourhoods, hotels, and sites look like “on the ground.”

Among the other sites now visible in Street View are those that have been chosen by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites in Israel, including the archaeological park in Beit She’an (one of the largest archaeological sites in the world),  Tzippori in the Galilee, the Timna Reserve, the Holocaust Museum at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, the museum related to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising at Kibbutz Lochamei Hageta’ot, the marketplace in the Druze village of  Daliyat al-Carmel, the Bedouin culture museum at the Joe Alon Center in the Negev, and the Egged Musuem, with its collection of  buses and transport vehicles.

View Larger Map (Mordechai Anielewicz Monument)

Launching Street View in Israel was actually not easy for Google. The company spent months negotiating with Israel’s Ministry of Justice in 2011 and had to make a number of concessions before it was allowed to start collecting its data. The country’s government, unsurprisingly, was concerned about Google taking photos of sensitive installations.

After months of discussion, and a public poll in which 70 percent of respondents supported Street View imagery, the Israeli government gave Google the go-ahead last August, but with four conditions:

1. Israel will be able to initiate any civil legal challenges against Google inside Israel, even though the Street View data will be hosted outside the country.

2. Google won’t challenge the authority of Israel’s Law, Information and Technology Authority to initiate criminal or administrative challenges if  Google violates state law.

3. Google will give the public a way to request additional blurring of images (beyond Google’s normal level of blurring) after the images are published online.

4. Google must use online and offline channels to inform the public about the Street View service, the right to ask for additional blurring and its planned driving routes. Google’s Street View cars must also be clearly marked so the public can identify them.

In a statement, Google said it hoped to further expand its Street View service to other sites in Israel.


(via Arutz7, TechCrunch and Search Engine Land)

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