Israel-Hamas War: Artificial Intelligence at the Heart of the Fighting

Two months after the massacres committed by Hamas in southwestern Israel, the Israeli army's operation is moving towards the south of the Gaza Strip, still supported by a gigantic bombing campaign that has exceeded 12,000 targets since 7 October. The infernal and unprecedented pace of these strikes is made possible by artificial intelligence, reveals the Israeli magazine +972. Investigative journalist Yuval Abraham's investigation shows that in order to carpet Gaza with bombs, the Jewish state depends more than ever on autonomous computer programs, with no regard for civilian casualties. Maintenance.

An Israeli artillery unit in action on November 2, 2023 (illustrative image). © JALAA MAREY / AFP

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RFI: We have known for several years that the Israeli army uses artificial intelligence parameters to support its war effort. How do these algorithms affect the bombing campaign that has targeted Gaza since October 7?

Yuval Abraham: What my investigation shows is that these programs are used to favor the quantity of targets at the expense of their quality and to carry out targeted assassinations, knowing full well that for hitting a single Hamas cadre, hundreds of Palestinian civilians will be killed.

How do these computer programs work?

Generally speaking, it involves collecting a huge amount of intelligence on the population of Gaza and automating the processing of this data through artificial intelligence. It analyzes them and develops potential targets. It is an automated process that results in deadly bombings and operates on a very large scale.

Is the pace of the strikes really more important than traditional targeting work?

It's incomparable, it's extremely high, it's unheard of. Israel has already bombed more than 20,000 targets since October 7.

Do these algorithms take into account the presence of civilians in the immediate vicinity of the targets they propose?

Some of my sources believe that these targets sometimes have almost no military value and that nevertheless civilians will lose their lives in the strikes that will follow the recommendations of the algorithms. And if so many of these sources have told me about it, it's because they consider what they are being made to do to be disproportionate and immoral.

How are the Israeli authorities responding?

The official response: that Israeli forces respect international law and issue warnings to civilians to evacuate targeted areas. My sources see this as a way for the army hierarchy to absolve itself of its responsibilities. As if dropping leaflets from an airplane was enough to justify killing the Gazans who dared to stay in their homes. We are talking about people who are sick, families who are frightened by the bombings. The government replies that these people have been warned. My investigation shows that this is far from always the case.

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