An Israeli town is suing Internet giant Google for slander, a local official said on Monday, because a feature of its worldwide map service shows the town was built on the ruins of an Arab village.
The dispute brings together two controversies, one old and one new. Officials from the town, Kiryat Yam, deny they displaced Arabs during the war that followed Israel's creation in 1948, and Google is defending the practice of allowing surfers to change information in its files.
An entry on Google Earth alleges that Kiryat Yam, located on the Mediterranean coast, was built on the ruins of Ghawarina, an Arab village.
Hundreds of thousands of Arabs were expelled during the 1948 to 1949 war that began with the creation of Israel.
Kiryat Yam was pulled into the dispute when a Google Earth user, Thameen Darby, inserted a note on the map saying it was built on the location of Ghawarina. Darby has inserted at least 10 such notes over Google's map of Israel.
Darby, 30, a Palestinian doctor, said his mother was a refugee from a village near Kiryat Yam.
He said his contributions to Google Earth were part of the "Nakhba-Palestinian Catastrophe" information initiative that aims to help displaced Palestinians find the villages of their parents or grandparents.