UN experts condemn Israel's use of AI in war on Gaza

UN experts condemn Israel's use of AI in war on Gaza
UN experts condemned Israel's use of AI in Gaza, citing concerns over civilian deaths and widespread destruction of homes and infrastructure.
2 min read
16 April, 2024
Israel's brutal war on the Gaza Strip has killed tens of thousands of people and devastated infrastructure [Rahim Khatib/Anadolu/Getty]

Five United Nations experts condemned on Monday the Israeli army's reported use of artificial intelligence (AI) in Gaza.

It came after reports emerged that Israeli forces were using AI for selecting and tracking targets in their military campaign in Gaza, where more than 33,800 people were killed - mostly women and children.

"If proven true, the shocking revelations of the use of AI systems by the Israeli military such as 'Gospel', 'Lavender' and 'Where's Daddy?', combined with lowered human due diligence to avoid or minimise civilian casualties or infrastructure, contribute to explaining the extent of the death toll and home destruction in Gaza," the UN experts said in a statement.

Over 15,000 deaths, half the current total number of civilian deaths, took place in the six weeks after the Gaza war began on 7 October, when AI systems appear to have been largely relied upon for selecting targets, the experts added.

"We are especially concerned about the alleged use of AI to target 'family homes' of suspected Hamas operatives, typically at night when they sleep, with unguided munitions known as 'dumb' bombs, with little regard for civilians who may be in or around that home," they said.

Up to 70 percent of all homes in Gaza and as many as 84 percent of homes in the strip's north were either fully destroyed or partly damaged since Israel's onslaught began on 7 October.

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"Six months into the current military offensive, more housing and civilian infrastructure has now been destroyed in Gaza as a percentage compared to any conflict in memory," the experts said.

"Homes are gone, and with that, the memories, hopes and aspirations of Palestinians and their ability to realise other rights," they said, including their rights to water, health, and self-determination.

Among the five experts was Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza.

"According to the experts, the systematic and widespread destruction of housing, services and civilian infrastructure represents a crime against humanity, a domicide, as well as numerous war crimes and acts of genocide as described by" Albanese in a March report to the Human Rights Council, the UN statement said.

The International Court of Justice in January found that Israel was plausibly breaching the Genocide Convention in Gaza.