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As Israel scrambles GPS for security, navigation and delivery apps affected throughout country

Central Israel sees first use of GPS disruption over fears of Iranian retaliation

(Photo: Screenshot/Google Maps)

Residents in central Israel reported disruptions in GPS services on Thursday morning, affecting navigation apps like GoogleMaps and Waze, and also affecting delivery apps used by many restaurants. Users also reported glitches showing their location as Beirut, Lebanon or somewhere nearby.

However, these disruptions and glitches are not a problem with the applications themselves but are being caused by the Israeli government, which has ordered the scrambling of GPS signals for security purposes.

The decision stems from concerns about retaliatory strikes by Iran in response to the assassination of General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, a high-ranking officer of the Iranian Quds Force, earlier this week. Scrambling the signal prevents precise aerial threats launched toward Israel.

Former head of the National Cyber Directorate, Yigal Unna, spoke to Ynet News regarding the GPS disruptions.

“The disruptions are an effective tool for confusing weapons that can be aimed accurately using GPS - Drones, UAVs, and missiles," Unna explained. "Like any powerful drug, it has side effects, and in the meantime, I suggest going back to maps like in previous times. You can manage. It's not an attack – it's a defense.” 

Since the beginning of the Gaza War, residents of the northern and southern communities have seen similar disruptions aimed at preventing targeted attacks from Iranian-backed terror groups, such as Hezbollah and the Houthis, which have received guided munitions from Iran. 

Many southern Israelis have seen their location services list their position as Cairo, in the same way that northern Israelis will show a location of Beirut. 

If Iran attempted, for example, to launch a GPS-guided drone or cruise missile, at the IDF Kirya military headquarters, or naval bases in Haifa or Eilat, the GPS disruptions would significantly hinder their ability to target accurately.

The government considers the disruptions as “collateral damage” for keeping the citizens of Israel safe.

The disruptions in Israel’s center, which are a new phenomenon, come as the Israeli government has been taking numerous measures to prepare its army and the public for an anticipated response from Iran. 

On Wednesday, the IDF announced that it had increased the readiness in the aerial defense system and recruited additional reservists. In addition, Israeli media reported that the Israeli Air Force (IAF) was put on high alert in the evening. 

Some municipalities in the central part of Israel are also considering opening public shelters in anticipation of retaliation.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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