iPhone App explores, reveals Israeli settlements

iPhone App explores, reveals Israeli settlements

LOS ANGELES — Want to know exactly where Ariel, the often discussed city-sized settlement in the West Bank, is located? How about when it was established or how many Israelis live there?

There’s an app for that.

On Monday, Americans for Peace Now unveiled “Facts on the Ground,” a mobile application focused on Israeli settlements in the West Bank offering extensive demographic and on-the-ground information on an easily navigable map of the region.

The app is available as a free English-language download for the iPhone and iPad. Soon it will be available in Hebrew and for cell phones running the Android platform. It is also available now on the APN website, peacenow.org.

“We used to have to sit down with a map,” said David Pine, APN’s West Coast regional director.

APN has briefed U.S. politicians on the state of West Bank settlements in the past, but with “Facts on the Ground,” APN has created a publicly accessible and easily updatable tool to track and disseminate information about the settlements and outposts being built, expanded or dismantled within the West Bank.

Israeli settlements have long been the source of controversy. The latest dispute over a nearly completed performing arts center in Ariel is the latest round in a debate that started immediately following the 1967 Six-Day War.

The app, which Pine said will be able to zoom in close enough to display images of an individual home, should feel familiar to users of Google Maps, but also allows users to add overlays onto the satellite image — Israeli settlements in blue, Palestinian municipalities in brown, and Israeli settlement outposts (established without legal authority) in red. The composite picture illustrates the settlements from APN’s perspective.

The Green Line — the border of Israel prior to the 1967 Six-Day War — and the West Bank security fence also can be viewed using the map.

APN has long tracked settlements as they are being built, dismantled or disputed.

“We are, in a sense, the experts in Israel, the nongovernmental experts on settlements,” Pine said. “In fact, the Israeli government often calls on us to go over things because things can change day to day.”