For the first time, the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip has turned to artificial intelligence technologies aimed at downing drones and detecting tunnels of Hamas, raising concerns about the role of autonomous weapons in warfare.
Last month, the military hinted at the purpose of these technologies when spokesperson Daniel Hagari mentioned that Israeli forces are operating "above ground and beneath it."
A military official confirmed to the "Agence France-Presse" that these technologies are primarily used to take down drones deployed by Palestinian factions and to map the network of tunnels in the besieged enclave.
These technologies were developed by Israeli companies within the tech sector, which has been impacted by the ongoing war for months.
In 2022, this sector contributed 18% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but 8% of its workforce was called up to the military following the outbreak of the war on October 7th last year.
Avi Hasson, head of the tech startup hub "Start-Up Nation Central," stated, "Generally, the war in Gaza poses risks, but it also provides opportunities to test new technologies in this area.”
However, these technologies raise concerns among human rights organizations, especially with the high toll of civilian casualties, who make up the majority of war victims in the Palestinian territory.
More than 150 countries supported a United Nations resolution last December, addressing "serious challenges and concerns" in the field of new military technologies, including artificial intelligence and autonomous weapon systems.
The war erupted on October 7th following an unprecedented attack by Hamas on southern Israel, resulting in over 1160 deaths, mostly civilians, according to a tally by "Agence France-Presse" based on official Israeli figures.
Additionally, about 250 hostages were taken during the attack, with Israel stating that 132 of them are still held in Gaza, and at least 29 are believed to have been killed, according to figures from the Israeli Prime Minister's office.
Israel responded with intensive bombing campaigns followed by a widespread ground assault in the Strip, resulting in 27,940 deaths, mostly women and children, according to the latest tally from the "Hamas"-run Health Ministry.
The war has seen extensive use of drone warfare, making aerial attacks easier and less costly.
Hamas showcased footage of the October 7th attack, demonstrating the use of drones to drop bombs on military vehicles, while Israel developed technologies to counter these drones.
The military for the first time used an AI-enhanced targeting scope developed by "Smart Shooter," equipped on weapons like rifles and machine guns.
Another technology involves launching drones capable of throwing nets over other drones to disable them.
Mapping the extensive tunnel network in Gaza remains a significant challenge for the Israeli military, which has announced discovering and detonating many tunnels.