World

To help quell riots, Israeli police deploy sophisticated spy balloons over Jerusalem

  • This undated photo provided by RT LTA Systems Ltd. shows a Skystar aerostat surveillance system. Israeli police started using the system recently in Jerusalem to track clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces. (AP Photo/RT LTA System Ltd.)

    This undated photo provided by RT LTA Systems Ltd. shows a Skystar aerostat surveillance system. Israeli police started using the system recently in Jerusalem to track clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces. (AP Photo/RT LTA System Ltd.)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this image made from undisclosed and undated video provided by RT LTA Systems Ltd. via AP video, a camera on a surveillance balloon flies over land. The Israel-based RT LTA Systems Ltd. that makes the Skystar 180 aerostat system said the balloons can stay in the air for 72 hours and carry sensitive cameras meant to assist security forces in their daily work. (AP Photo/RT LTA Systems Ltd. via AP video)

    In this image made from undisclosed and undated video provided by RT LTA Systems Ltd. via AP video, a camera on a surveillance balloon flies over land. The Israel-based RT LTA Systems Ltd. that makes the Skystar 180 aerostat system said the balloons can stay in the air for 72 hours and carry sensitive cameras meant to assist security forces in their daily work. (AP Photo/RT LTA Systems Ltd. via AP video)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this image made from undisclosed and undated video provided by RT LTA Systems Ltd. via AP video, a Skystar 180 aerostat system flies over land. The Israel-based RT LTA Systems Ltd. that makes the Skystar 180 aerostat system said the balloons can stay in the air for 72 hours and carry sensitive cameras meant to assist security forces in their daily work. (AP Photo/RT LTA Systems Ltd. via AP video)

    In this image made from undisclosed and undated video provided by RT LTA Systems Ltd. via AP video, a Skystar 180 aerostat system flies over land. The Israel-based RT LTA Systems Ltd. that makes the Skystar 180 aerostat system said the balloons can stay in the air for 72 hours and carry sensitive cameras meant to assist security forces in their daily work. (AP Photo/RT LTA Systems Ltd. via AP video)  (The Associated Press)

With riots in Jerusalem threatening to unravel a volatile region, Israeli police are looking to the sky for some help to keep things under control.

Over the past few weeks, police have been using sophisticated surveillance balloons to keep track of unrest that has roiled the city's eastern sector. The white, puffy aircraft, hovering over sensitive holy sites and Arab neighborhoods, have given police a new tool in their widening arsenal meant to halt the Jerusalem's worst wave of violence in nearly a decade.

Police say the balloons give their surveillance efforts an added dimension — allowing them to monitor and even prevent violence before it happens. They also have used the balloons to track people suspected in violent protests.

But residents say the aircraft are an invasion of privacy.