Israel reportedly uses AI to identify 37,000 Hamas targets

Occurred: October 2023-

Israel used an AI-powered tool to identify and bomb suspected Hamas operatives in Gaza at night with their families, according to a local media investigation.

Citing Israeli military sources, +972 Magazine and Local Call reported that the system - named Lavender - was used by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) since the start of the Israel-Hamas war to rapidly identify potential targets linked to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). At one stage, Lavender is said to have listed approximately 37,000 Palestinian men associated with these groups.

Intelligence sources claimed that Israeli military officials permitted large numbers of Palestinian civilians to be killed, particularly during the early weeks and months of the conflict, and that 'thousands of Palestinians - most of them women and children or people who were not involved in the fighting - were wiped out by Israeli airstrikes, especially during the first weeks of the war, because of the AI programme’s decisions.'

One official told +972 that 'human personnel often served only as a 'rubber stamp' for the machine’s decisions' and typically devoted only around 20 seconds to each target - mostly ensuring they are male - before authorising a bombing.

An Israeli Defence Forces official did not dispute the existence of the tool, but the IDF denied AI was being used to identify suspected terrorists. 

Operator: Israeli Defence Forces (IDF)
Country: Israel; Palestine
Sector: Govt - defence
Purpose: Identify targets
Technology: Machine learning
Issue: Ethics/values; Human/civil rights; Safety
Transparency: Governance