Nearly a month after the violent Israel-Palestinian war, Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) are now claiming that they used “state of the art” artificial intelligence technologies during the conflict, making it the “First AI War” of human history. Speaking about the feat, the IDF has claimed that using these AI technologies helped them to better plan attacks and avoid civilian casualties on a larger level. This claim by Israeli Defence is being widely discussed amongst the defence experts and military establishments across the world, where on one hand, many of them are amazed by the use of technology in this domain, on the other, there are a few experts who are even criticising this move of the IDF claiming it to be a mere diversion from the devastating impacts of the war.
What has the IDF said about the use of AI in the recent conflict with Palestine:
Talking to The Jerusalem Post, a Senior Intelligence Officer of the IDF said- “For the first time, artificial intelligence was a key component and power multiplier in fighting the enemy. This is a first-of-its-kind campaign for the IDF. We implemented new methods of operation and used technological developments that were a force multiplier for the entire IDF.”
Israeli intelligence has claimed that its technology allowed mapping with great precision, the network of tunnels under Gaza, which were used by Palestinian militants. They said this data that IDF got using signal intelligence (SIGINT), visual intelligence (VISINT), human intelligence (HUMINT), geographical intelligence (GEOINT) and more, were combined and processed by using Artificial Intelligence and ultimately helped secure the killing of senior Hamas commander Bassem Issa, the highest-profile officer killed by the IDF since the 2014 Israeli operation in Gaza, and of several other operatives.
IDF claims that there have been years of research and planning behind this, which has yielded such results in the war with Hamas. Media reports around the globe say that Soldiers in Unit 8200, an Intelligence Corps elite unit, pioneered algorithms and code that led to several new programs called “Alchemist,” “Gospel” and “Depth of Wisdom,” which were developed and used during the fighting. IDF officers also say that these large intelligence inputs and the processing of them using AI, was the reason behind IDF being able to carry well-planned, pinpoint airstrikes that led to the collapse of the Hamas network and their safe houses even below the ground, including the tunnels that they used to travel within the area. Apart from this, the military said that it also relied heavily on intelligence to carry out precision strikes in an attempt to minimize civilian casualties.
What do the critics say about these claims:
There are many around the globe who are not happy with the IDF boasting about its pioneering technology in a war that has brought massive devastation to the local population. They perceive it as more of a sales pitch, where according to them, Israel is using its long-standing conflict with Hamas and the control that it has over Gaza, as a convenient place to field-test military and security technologies and find potential buyers for it across the globe.
Some also argue that Israel, who is already facing a backlash from the Muslim world (who are blaming it for the war-torn state of the Gaza strip), is making such claims in order to divert the world’s attention from the humanitarian loss of the war, and rather focus on Israel’s “technological superiority”. One such critic also said that Israel’s intention behind showing involvement of AI in its missile attacks could possibly be that the country now wants to be safe from any blame for misfires and civilian casualties, and the IDF can now hide behind the AI, and easily say that anything that may have caused civilians to die, could have happened because of miscalculation on AI’s part.
The humanitarian loss in the “1st AI War”:
Though the IDF says that the use of AI-powered warfare in Gaza allowed it to minimize civilian casualties, Health officials in Gaza have reported otherwise. They have said that at least 243 Palestinian civilians were killed, including 66 children, during the conflict in the Gaza strip. The Israeli side, on the other hand, says that it killed 100 militant operatives while blaming misfired Hamas rockets for some of the civilian casualties in Gaza. According to official reports, Israel has lost 12 civilians and one soldier in the near-10 day war between the two sides.