Israel knowingly targets civilians in Gaza using AI: report

Israel knowingly targets civilians in Gaza using AI: report
The investigation used sources from within the Israeli military to detail how Israel's bombardment of Gaza has led to such catastrophic civilian casualties.
3 min read
01 December, 2023
Israel's bombardment of Gaza resumed on Friday following end of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas [Photo by JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images]

An investigation into Israel's devastating bombardment of the Gaza Strip has revealed that it deliberately strikes targets knowing that civilians will be killed as a result.

The investigation, a collaboration between +972 magazine and Local Call, detailed how Israel's military campaign in the Gaza Strip has deliberately targeted sites of no military value, and approved strikes in full knowledge that civilians would be killed.

It also noted that through the use of AI systems, the Israeli military has enhanced its ability to generate more targets, to the extent that it generates more than it can attack.

According to +972 and Local Call, sources within the Israeli military spoke of how senior officials within the military had relaxed the civilian casualty threshold for attacks to be conducted.

Live Story

One source told the investigation that "the numbers increased from dozens of civilian deaths [permitted] as collateral damage as part of an attack on a senior official in previous operations, to hundreds of civilian deaths as collateral damage".

Israel's deployment of the Dahiya Doctrine and destruction of so-called 'power targets' are a means of deliberately targeting civilians.

Israel is believed to be targeting civilian and government infrastructure to unleash such civilian suffering that piles pressure on armed groups to end attacks on Israel, with "private residences… public buildings, infrastructure, and high-rise blocks" being considered "power targets".

Although prior conflicts saw the use of mechanisms to evacuate civilians from power targets, the investigation detailed cases where high-rise buildings were destroyed without prior warning killing civilians.

Israeli sources also noted that identified power targets often did not have the "military value".

In one such instance, an Israeli source stated that "the bottom line is that they knocked down a high-rise for the sake of knocking down a high-rise".

Israel has consistently struck civilian targets with no apparent military component to them, with survivors of such attacks stating that there were no Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad members around.

In addition, the employment of AI through the Israeli Army's Targets Administrative Division and the 'Habsora' AI system, has provided the air force with targets "at a rate that far exceeds what was previously possible", with one former intelligence officer saying the army is running a "mass assassination factory".

Yet Israel and the US have consistently claimed that the Israeli military attempts to minimise civilian casualties in Gaza, despite evidence to the contrary by rights groups. 

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Thursday that the Israeli army "understands the imperative of protecting civilians".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously stated that Israel was "doing everything we can to get the civilians out of harms way".

This is in stark contrast with testimony in the investigation, with a source in the Israeli military stating "when a 3-year-old girl is killed in a home in Gaza, it's because someone in the army decided it wasn't a big deal for her to be killed".

The source added that "we know exactly how much collateral damage there is in every home".

Israel's campaign in Gaza, which has seen extensive bombing of the whole strip, a ground invasion of northern Gaza, and a siege on the territory, has killed close to 15,000 Palestinians since 7 October.

Over 100 people have been killed with hundreds more wounded in Israeli airstrikes that hit 200 targets across Gaza following the resumption of hostilities on Friday.