From Habsora to Lavender – The Israeli AI ‘Machines Hunting Down People’ In Gaza

Israel regularly uses artificial intelligence to kill Palestinians. (Design: Palestine Chronicle)

By Robert Inlakesh

Attention has recently been refocused on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) by the Israeli military to help them kill Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip. 

This has come after renowned Hollywood actor, Mark Ruffalo, retweeted an article written for the MIT’s Technology Review about the subject.

Since November of 2023, when +972 Mag published its investigative article entitled “A mass assassination factory’: Inside Israel’s calculated bombing of Gaza”, the extent to which the Israeli military is relying on AI technology in conducting its assault on the Palestinian territory has been public knowledge. 

From The Gospel to Lavender

The piece revealed that Israel had been using a specific Artificial Intelligence program eerily called Habsora (The Gospel), in order to auto-generate targets at a speed which would not be humanly possible without it.

We also learned that the Israeli military would approve targets without giving enough time to properly filter through them to analyze whether they were actually valid military sites or not. 

Meet ‘The Gospel’ – How Artificial Intelligence is Used to Kill Palestinians

In essence, the use of the Habsora system has been weaponized by Israel in order to give their army a justification for hitting targets that were completely flawed and did not possess military value.

In April, another investigative article published by +972 Mag, revealed that another AI system named ‘Lavender’ was being utilized by the Israeli military, in addition to the grotesquely titled “Where’s Daddy” AI system. 

It was uncovered that the Lavender system was relied upon “as if it were a human decision”, having generated tens of thousands of targets which the occupation army would spend an average of “20 seconds” investigating before approving the bombing of the target selected during the first weeks of the war on Gaza.

MIT Article

More recently, Hollywood actor Mark Ruffalo sparked online debates about the very efficacy of using AI in warfare when he retweeted an op-ed written by William Fitzgerald for the MIT’s Technology Review. 

Fitzgerald argued that it is the time for people of conscience working in tech to stand up and act in order to try to prevent the use of AI technology in the Gaza massacre. 

Mark Ruffalo commented the following on the issue:

“The nightmare of an apocalyptic world has come. Machines hunting down people. Weaponized AI is already being used in GAZA. The Palestinian people are the experiment for this insane and deeply flawed and dehumanizing technology. We need more whistleblowers…learn how to do it safely.”

Use of AI Technology

However, the use of AI technology against Palestinians did not begin on October 7, 2023. 

In fact, the Israeli military bragged in May of 2021 that they had conducted the first ever AI-aided war in the Gaza Strip. The 11-day war resulted in the murder of around 300 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, and was entitled “Operation Guardian of the Walls” by the Israelis; who had boasted about their heavy reliance on the machines to conduct war.

The year prior to this, on November 27, 2020, the Israeli intelligence agency known as the Mossad used an AI-operated gun to assassinate Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, in Tehran. 

Not only this, in 2022 the occupation forces in the West Bank set up AI “smart guns” at a checkpoint in the Palestinian city of al-Khalil and also deployed similar weapons, all products of the Israeli company ‘Smart Shooter’, mounted on the top of military jeeps. 

This AI “smart gun” technology was quite literally tested on Palestinian civilians, despite the evident dangers of the systems.

‘Lavender’: Report Exposes Israel’s AI-Driven Massacres in Gaza

In addition to this, the Israeli intelligence gathering efforts in the Gaza Strip were outsourced greatly to artificial intelligence systems, which was in addition to the AI machine guns mounted on military towers surrounding the Gaza-Israel separation fence. 

When Hamas launched its military operation on October 7, it actually factored the AI technology into its plan and worked to both confuse and physically destroy the AI technology upon launching its assault. 

In 2021, a 1.2 billion dollar contract was signed which calls upon Google and Amazon to provide the Israeli government with cloud computing and artificial intelligence services, which sparked protests that led to the firing of dozens of Google employees.

At this point the Israeli military, often in collaboration with technologies developed by private corporations, has employed a wide range of AI-run programs and weapons systems that are designed to spy on, monitor, track, target and kill Palestinians, so it is difficult to list them all. 

On top of all of this is the fact that Israel is literally using its occupation, apartheid system and now its genocidal assault on Gaza in order to test and market this AI technology. It has reached the stage that it could be argued that distinguishing between machine and man in the Israeli military has become difficult. 

(The Palestine Chronicle)

– Robert Inlakesh is a journalist, writer, and documentary filmmaker. He focuses on the Middle East, specializing in Palestine. He contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
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