Israel is using “assassination factory” AI to choose its bombing targets in Gaza
12/12/2023 // Cassie B. // Views

Israel has been using an AI program known as “The Gospel” to choose the targets in its relentless assault on the Gaza Strip, according to The Guardian.

There is no shortage of footage in the news illustrating the extent of the damage Israel has caused in the enclave, with numerous buildings completely leveled, and although at times it seems like they are taking out everything they see, little attention has been given by the media to how they choose what to target.

However, as Israel resumes its operations following a week-long ceasefire that saw the return of dozens of hostages, concerns are growing about the IDF’s methods, particularly its use of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Their AI targeting program is capable of providing them with targets at such a rapid pace that some officials are comparing it to an assassination “factory.” The Guardian put together a comprehensive report on the technology after interviewing intelligence sources with firsthand knowledge of the system and reviewing statements made by retired and current officials and the IDF.

Last month, the IDF announced that they had identified more than 12,000 targets in the Gaza Strip. One official said: “We work without compromise in defining who and what the enemy is. The operatives of Hamas are not immune – no matter where they hide.”

Although much of what the IDF’s target administration division does is classified, a brief statement on their website admits they are employing an AI-based program known as Habsora (which means “The Gospel”) in their fight against Hamas to “produce targets at a fast pace.”

Several sources have confirmed their use of The Gospel and said that it is used to provide them with automated recommendations on targets they should attack. These include the private homes of people who are believed to be working for Hamas or Islamic Jihad.

It is not known exactly what information is fed into The Gospel, but experts in the field have said these systems analyze large data sets taken from sources such as surveillance data, drone footage, intercepted communications and information obtained by monitoring the behavioral patterns and movements of individuals and groups alike.

Another official said that the Israeli air force has run out of targets to strike in the past given Hamas’s reliance on its tunnel system. They believe that the IDF is now changing its approach as a result. While they did not target junior Hamas members’ homes for bombing in the past, they are not being as discriminating now.

“Hamas members who don’t really mean anything live in homes across Gaza. So they mark the home and bomb the house and kill everyone there,” the source reported.

IDF knows how many civilians it could kill ahead of strikes

The publication also noted that the IDF’s target division has created a database with help from The Gospel containing as many as 40,000 suspected militants.

The system has significantly enhanced their ability to identify targets. One interview that predates the current war with former IDF head Aviv Kochavi sheds light on just how powerful it is. He noted that “once this machine was activated” during the country’s 11-day war with Hamas in 2021, it provided them with 100 targets per day.

“To put that into perspective, in the past we would produce 50 targets in Gaza per year. Now, this machine produces 100 targets in a single day, with 50% of them being attacked,” he clarified.

Moreover, target researchers are reportedly well aware of how many civilians are expected to be killed when they authorize a strike on a private home belonging to a Hamas operative, with each target recommended by the AI coming with a collateral damage score providing this information. One source said that the final decision is made by the commander on duty, and some are “more trigger happy than others.”

Sources for this article include:

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