High resolution images from Israel and Palestine are now available for the public use, including sensitive sites in Israel such as Dimona Nuclear Reactor, the Times of Israel reported yesterday.
"We now have quadrupled the resolution for Israel and Palestine!" Mabox wrote in a blog post. "This new imagery gives our customers the highest-resolution imagery available to plan a hike, check a delivery, or navigate between cities."
According to the Times of Israel, this came due to a Trump-era change in regulations that previously censored satellite images produced by private US companies.
The Kyl-Bingaman Amendment effectively imposed US government censorship on commercial images of Israel, an example of which is the fact that Israeli images on Google Maps often appeared blurred in a way that they are not in other countries, the Israeli daily said.
"Previously, the Kyl-Bingaman Amendment prohibited US companies from providing imagery in this region at resolutions greater than 2 meters per pixel," Mapbox said. "This law was changed in 2020, with the new restriction set at 40 centimeters."
It added: "We worked with our imagery partner, Maxar, to take delivery of their 50 cm Vivid product to provide consistency with the global imagery update we made in late 2020."
Earlier this year, Israeli newspaper Haaretz asked Google whether it would upgrade its imagery of Israel in light of the legislative change, but the tech giant said that it had "no plans to share."
Mapbox uses data from Maxar's WorldView satellites, which it described as "the most advanced, highest-resolution Earth observation instruments of their kind, outside of spy satellites that we don't know about."
Speaking to Ynet News, retired Major General Giora Eiland, a former head of Israel's National Security Council, said: "Information that is apparently unclassified makes Israel very vulnerable to the enemy."
Former national security adviser Yaakov Amidror also warned: "The clearer the picture they have of the target, the better they can aim and the greater their ability to inflict damage."