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July 7, 2020

Israel feels exposed as US drops satellite-imaging cap

World

July 7, 2020

JERUSALEM: An Israeli official flagged a possible security risk on Monday following a U.S. move to allow American providers to sell clearer satellite images of Israel and the Palestinian territories. Under a 1997 U.S. regulation known as the Kyl-Bingaman Amendment, satellite images of Israel and the Palestinian territories used in services like Google Earth could show items no smaller than 2 metres (6.56 ft) across. The curb, Israel had argued, would help prevent enemies using public-domain information to spy on its sensitive sites. But the U.S. Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs Office said on June 25 it would allow enhanced resolutions of 0.4 metre. In a statement, the agency said “a number of foreign sources” are already producing and disseminating sub-2 m. imagery of Israel. Amnon Harari, head of space programmes at Israel’s Defence Ministry, said he believed the move was designed to ease international competition for US commercial satellites, adding: “I don’t think they (Americans) asked us” in advance.