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IDF uses AI facial recognition tech to identify terrorists in Gaza

The IDF’s Digital Transformation Division (Photo: IDF Spokesperson)

Israel Defense Forces has played a prominent role in modern counter-terrorism with daring rescue operations, innovative tactics and the deployment of cutting-edge technologies.

The Israeli military, along with intelligence agencies, are now using artificial intelligence facial recognition technology in the war against Hamas terrorists, Israeli security officials recently told The New York Times.

Facial recognition has become a powerful but not flawless tool in the battle against terrorists who hide among civilians in the densely populated Gaza Strip.

The unnamed Israeli intelligence officials revealed that the technology was initially used for the challenging task of identifying Israeli hostages who were abducted by terrorists into Gaza during the Oct. 7 attack.

However, Israeli forces began swiftly using facial recognition to identify Palestinian terrorists in general and perpetrators of the Oct. 7 massacres, in particular.

The Israeli company Corsight AI developed the facial recognition technology being used together with the Google Photos app. IDF soldiers on the battlefield then use Google’s advanced photo search function to identify whether an individual is an affiliated member of a terrorist organization.

Corsight's tech can recognize faces from blurred drone images, as well as faces within large crowds, however, it is not 100% accurate, which is something that has raised concerns among the officials. Nevertheless, Corsight claims their product will accurately identify a person with less than 50% of their face visible.

Despite many successes in identifying terrorists, the IDF has made mistakes in the often-chaotic battles in Gaza. Citing the unnamed Israeli security officials, the NYT recounted the arrest of the Gazan poet Mosab Abu Toha, who was mistakenly believed to be affiliated with terrorists.

The Israeli military argued it had arrested Toha due to “intelligence indicating a number of interactions between several civilians and terror organizations inside the Gaza Strip.” However, after two days of interrogations, the IDF admitted the poet's arrest was a “mistake.”

Despite these unintentional errors of identification during the war, the military stressed that it “carries out necessary security and intelligence operations while making significant efforts to minimize harm to the uninvolved population.”

The IDF has also deployed sophisticated technologies in the battle against Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists hiding in Gaza’s vast subterranean 500 km (310 mile) tunnel system. which is considerably longer than the London Underground. The deployment of cutting-edge technologies has enabled forces to eliminate a large number of terrorists in the tunnel systems with relatively few IDF losses.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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