Dr Mike Evans

IDF using facial recognition technology in war against Hamas

Israel has detained hundreds of Palestinian suspects in Gaza through the use of an experimental surveillance system powered by artificial intelligence, as reported by The New York Times on Wednesday.

The newspaper, citing unnamed Israeli intelligence officers, military officials, and soldiers, revealed that the program relies on Google Photos and technology from the private Israeli company Corsight AI to identify faces in crowds and low-quality drone footage.

According to the report, the tool was initially employed to locate Israeli hostages abducted to Gaza but has since been increasingly utilized against potential suspects within Gaza. The system, including technology from the army’s 8200 cybersecurity unit, has played a significant role in the ongoing conflict in Gaza, with the Israeli Defense Forces deploying AI tools to identify targets.

While previous Amnesty International reports detailed Israel’s use of facial recognition technology in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, The New York Times suggests that surveillance efforts in Gaza have intensified since October 7 compared to other regions.

In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, soldiers utilize smartphone apps and high-resolution cameras to scan Palestinians’ faces, while in Gaza, the IDF had primarily relied on wiretaps, drones, and social media images until the current conflict.

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, Israel has been engaged in a significant offensive against the Hamas-led terrorists in Gaza, aiming to dismantle the group and secure the release of hostages. The offensive has resulted in widespread destruction of residences in the enclave and the displacement of over a million people, prompting concerns of imminent famine by United Nations officials.

The Gaza health ministry, run by Hamas, claims that over 32,000 people in the Strip have been killed in the fighting, including at least 13,000 Hamas militants, although this figure cannot be independently verified. Israel also states that it killed around 1,000 gunmen inside Israel on October 7.