Palestinian App Helps Drivers Avoid Checkpoint Bottlenecks

RAMALLAH (Reuters) -
israel palestinians
Mohammad Abdel Haleem, CEO of Doroob Technologies, uses Doroob Navigator as he drives his car at an Israeli checkpoint in Ramallah. (Reuters/Mohamad Torokman)

A new, locally developed app helps Palestinian drivers in Yehudah and Shomron negotiate traffic at Israeli military checkpoints and uncover routes to towns mainstream providers often miss.

Launched in June and designed by Palestinians, Doroob Navigator crowd-sources road closures and traffic data from users. It aims to supplant apps like Google Maps and Waze, which rarely account for Israeli restrictions and struggle to navigate between Palestinian cities.

Some checkpoints are long-established at the entrances to villages and cities, but others are set up by military authorities in response to Palestinian terror attacks and threats.

“We had to design our maps completely from scratch. The wall, checkpoints, settlements … existing mapping software could never account for the complexity here,” said Mohammad Abdel Haleem, CEO of Doroob Technologies.

The app, which has garnered 22,000 users in two months, is funded by Ideal, a Ramallah-based transportation and automation software company also led by Abdel Haleem. He says he hopes to monetise the app in the future in part via a delivery feature.

Doroob Navigator’s algorithm combines reports from users with manual inputs by engineering staff to help drivers avoid crippling checkpoint traffic and circumvent Israeli communities, which most Palestinian vehicles cannot enter.

“Other apps might say the only way to drive between certain Palestinian cities is to cut through a settlement,” Abdel Haleem said. “We’re trying to change that.”

The app is also available in the Palestinian coastal enclave of Gaza, though most active users are in Yehudah and Shomron, Abdeel Haleem says.