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New iPhone app tracks Israeli settlement expansion

As Israeli settlement building resumes after a 10-month freeze, the antisettlement group Peace Now has unveiled an iPhone app featuring daily updates.

As building is ramping up again in West Bank settlements, the antisettlement group Peace Now is hoping to get Israelis more in touch with what's happening there. A new iPhone app called 'Facts on the Ground' allows users to zoom in on Google satellite images of the West Bank.

Kim Jae-hwan/AFP/Newscom

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With building ramping up again in West Bank settlements after Israel's 10-month moratorium expired Sunday, the antisettlement group Peace Now is hoping to get Israelis more in touch with what's happening there – literally.

A new iPhone app called "Facts on the Ground" allows users to zoom in on Google satellite images of the West Bank, where little blue Monopoly-style houses denote the size of each settlement – 123 in all.

Additional layers, such as red shading to denote illegal outposts or a blue line for Israel's separation barrier, can be selected with a tap of the finger for more context. Users interested in finding a specific settlement can select it from a list and be directed to a close-up view of the area, as well as information on when it was established and how the population has grown since then.

The application – launched in English by Peace Now's American branch, with plans for a future Hebrew version – highlights the myriad data necessary to get an accurate picture of how Israeli settlements are developing.

Peace Now's stated purpose of the application, which has a certain PR element to it, is to "democratize" information about the settlements – a goal shared by settlers themselves, even if they're seeking to persuade Israelis in an opposite direction.

"It's obvious [Peace Now's] agenda is to make the information available to hurt us,'' says David Haivri, a settler spokesman who lives in the settlement of Kfar Tapuach. "But it can be used to our advantage, because our supporters are interested.

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