Israel to track citizens with coronavirus through geolocation

Israel to track citizens with coronavirus through geolocation
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Israel gave the green light to its internal security agency, which usually conducts operations against Palestinian militant groups, to start tracking citizens infected with COVID-19, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

The head of the agency, Nadav Argaman, said that while the new mission would divert from its primary purpose, the initiative falls within its scope of “saving lives.”

The agency told the AP it will not be using the most advanced tools available and will instead use geolocation to ensure that those infected with the virus stay away from others. Argaman also said that the agency would not hold on to any of the information it collects from patients' cellphones.

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“The other state bodies don’t have the necessary technological means to aid this effort,” Argaman said in a statement to the AP. “I am well aware of the sensitivity of this matter and therefore have instructed that only a very limited number of agents will be handling this and the information will not be saved.”

Opposition party leaders called the move “surrendering transparency" and "political thievery," according to the Jerusalem Post.

"Because the pandemic is spreading at an incredibly fast pace, postponing using these tools by even an hour could cause the deaths of a very large amount of Israelis," Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE said at a press conference.

As of Tuesday morning, 324 cases of the virus had been confirmed in Israel, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.