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Business News/ Ai / Israel-Hamas war: How AI helps Israel army select bombing targets in Gaza
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Israel-Hamas war: How AI helps Israel army select bombing targets in Gaza

Israel-Hamas war: AI-based systems like 'the Gospel' have reportedly sped up the target creation process in the operations by the Israel Defence Forces.

A missile explodes in Gaza City during an Israeli air strike on October 8, 2023. (AFP)Premium
A missile explodes in Gaza City during an Israeli air strike on October 8, 2023. (AFP)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) seems to be driving Israel's bombing campaign in Gaza. According to reports, the war in Gaza has provided Israel an opportunity to deploy AI target-creation platform called "the Gospel". The AI-based tool helps Israel generate "targets" at an automatic rate.

444 targets a day

On November 2, the website of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) posted a statement that quoted an IDF official as saying that the force was using an AI-based system called Habsora (the Gospel, in English) in the war against Hamas to “produce targets at a fast pace".

In its article, the IDF claimed that over 12,000 targets were hit in 27 days of fighting. This is approximately 444 targets a day. Meanwhile, sources familiar with how AI-based systems have been integrated into the IDF’s operations told the Guardian that such tools had significantly sped up the target creation process.

"With the help of artificial intelligence, and through the rapid and automatic extraction of updated intelligence, it (the Gospel) produces a recommendation for the researcher, with the goal being that there will be a complete match between the machine's recommendation and the identification performed by a person," the IDF said.

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'Matrix-like capabilities'

Meanwhile, the Guardian quoted sources as saying, "Systems such as the Gospel had played a critical role in building lists of individuals authorised to be assassinated." It also quoted the former head of the IDF, Aviv Kochavi, as saying that the target division is “powered by AI capabilities" and includes hundreds of officers and soldiers.

In an interview published before the war, Kochavi had said it was "a machine that produces vast amounts of data more effectively than any human and translates it into targets for attack".

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He added that the IDF "possesses Matrix-like capabilities". He told a magazine, “Each brigade now has a sophisticated intelligence apparatus akin to the movie The Matrix, providing real-time intelligence."

"Among all the technological revolutions, artificial intelligence (AI) is likely to be the most radical, for better or worse. The IDF recognized this field years ago and harnessed it to enhance combat effectiveness," he was quoted as saying.

He added that a "Targeting Directorate" was established three years ago. "It is a unit comprising hundreds of officers and soldiers, powered by AI capabilities," he said.

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Not the first time

In the interview, Kochavi recalled Israel’s 11-day war with Hamas in May 2021. He said, "In Operation Guardian of the Walls, once this machine was activated, it generated 100 new targets every day. To put it in perspective, in the past, we would produce 50 targets in Gaza in a year. Now, this machine created 100 targets in a single day, with 50 per cent of them being attacked."

In 2021, the IDF launched what it referred to as the world’s "first AI war". It was the eleven-day offensive on Gaza known as “Operation Guardian of the Walls" that reportedly killed 261 Palestinians and injured 2,200.

Does it reduce civilian harm?

A former senior Israeli military source had told the Guardian that operatives use a “very accurate" measurement of the rate of civilians evacuating a building shortly before a strike. “We use an algorithm to evaluate how many civilians are remaining. It gives us a green, yellow, red, like a traffic signal."

However, the report quoted experts in AI and armed conflict as saying that they were sceptical of assertions that AI-based systems reduced civilian harm by encouraging more accurate targeting.

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Published: 02 Dec 2023, 08:33 PM IST
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