Intel officials say Israel used Lavender AI to target Hamas, IDF denies claims: report

New Delhi: A previously unknown AI system called Lavender was used by the Israeli military during its bombing campaign to identify potential targets in Gaza, according to intelligence sources involved in the conflict, a report in The Guardian said. This AI database at one time flagged 37,000 Palestinians as having possible ties to Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

According to the report, intelligence sources claimed that the system played a vital role in rapidly processing data to identify targets, linking individuals to terrorist groups. He also accused Israeli authorities of allowing large numbers of civilian casualties, especially in the early months of the war.

Lavender was developed by Israel’s elite unit 8200 Intelligence Division, the equivalent of the US National Security Agency, or GCHQ, in Britain. Intelligence sources said the military applied pre-determined allowances for estimated civilian deaths before approving strikes on low-level targets, The Guardian reported.

Two intelligence sources said that during the early weeks of the war they were given permission to kill 15 or 20 civilians while targeting militants. The attacks on these targets were carried out using unguided weapons, known as “dumb bombs”, the sources said, adding that entire houses would be targeted in the attacks and all occupants would be killed.

“In my memory, it is unique. Everyone present there, including me, lost people on October 7. The machine did this work very easily. And that made it easier,” one official told The Guardian.

“You don’t want to waste expensive bombs on unimportant people – it’s too expensive for the country and its shortage [of those bombs]”Said another.

Meanwhile, the IDF denied the claims as “baseless” and said its operation aimed to eliminate Hamas after the October 7 attacks.

“Some claims are baseless in fact, while others reflect a flawed understanding of IDF instructions and international law. Following the deadly attack by the Hamas terrorist organization on October 7, the IDF is working to dismantle Hamas’ military capabilities,” the IDF said in a statement.

“Contrary to claims, the IDF does not use an artificial intelligence system that identifies terrorist operatives or tries to predict whether an individual is a terrorist. Information systems are merely tools for analysts in the target identification process,” the IDF said.