In Today’s Israel, Cameras Keep an Eagle Eye on Just About Everything

(AP Photo/Al Behrman, File)

If you’re planning on littering in Rishon LeTzion, or for that matter – in hundreds of other locations, look up first: Your actions may be recorded on camera, and a city official may show up at your doorstep bearing a summons.

That’s exactly what happened to at least one man, a report on Kan News said. It turns out that there are tens of thousands of cameras around the country, located in city centers, small towns, highway junctions, and many other places. And while the main purpose of the cameras is to provide security, the images are being used for other purposes as well.

What, exactly, is not clear, however, according to the report. The report presented a map of the cameras, located in many cities and towns, both large and small, in the Jewish and Arab sectors, all apparently deployed by security forces but administered by local officials. There are no clear rules on how the images may be used – indeed, Israel has no legislation about this – and no one is sure who has access to the images, how long they are being kept, or where they are being stored, the report said.

The large majority of Israelis are not even aware of the presence of the cameras, but in some places, residents were up in arms when they found out. In Beit El, the report said, residents demanded that the cameras be removed after a rumor spread that the images were being sent directly to the mayor’s office. In Metullah, the city itself decided to remove the cameras, fearing that they could be used in a cyberattack.

According to the report, Rishon LeTzion has the most cameras, with over 1,500 listed. Speaking to Kan News, Mayor Raz Kintslich said that the city makes no secret of the presence of the cameras, and in fact informs residents of their existence – but admits that many visitors and even residents are unaware that there are cameras recording them at the beach, as well. When informed, he said, some expressed concern that their privacy would be invaded, while others said they welcomed the cameras, which would assist in preventing thefts.

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