IDF Allowed up to 20 Civilian Deaths Per Low-Level Suspected Hamas Militant: New Report

During the first weeks of the war between Israel and Hamas, the Israel Defense Forces established a ratio of how many civilian deaths in Gaza would be allowed for each Hamas militant killed, according to a new report.

A joint report from +972 Magazine, a Tel Aviv-based media outlet, and Local Call revealed some of the methodology behind the IDF’s targeting of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza, based on interviews with six Israeli intelligence officers. The Guardian also had exclusive access to the testimonies of the six officers.

The sources, who remained anonymous, told media that the IDF used artificial intelligence, a system known internally as “Lavender,” to create a database of potential targets that could be linked to Hamas and to the JIP. At one point in the first weeks of the war, the system identified as many as 37,000 Palestinians, according to four intelligence sources, The Guardian reported.

Once the AI ​​identifies a potential target, a human would spend less than a minute verifying the machine’s decision, a source told the media.

“At this point I would invest 20 seconds for each target and do dozens every day,” an intelligence source said, according to The Guardian. “I had no added value as a human other than being a seal of approval. It saved me a lot of time.”

With the AI-based targeting system, especially early in the war The Israeli military authorized the killing of a certain number of civilians for each suspected Hamas militant murdered, two of the sources told +972 and Local Call. In times of war, these civilian deaths are referred to as collateral damage.

Two of the sources told media that in the first weeks of the war, the IDF allowed as many as 15 or 20 civilian deaths for every junior Hamas militant killed.

That number could rise to more than 100 civilians if the Israeli army targeted a single senior Hamas official, the sources said.

“There was a completely permissive policy regarding victims of the operations,” a source said, according to the report. “A policy so permissive that in my opinion it contained an element of revenge.”

The number of permitted collateral damage has fluctuated since the start of the war, with one intelligence officer saying the rate had recently been reduced again, according to The Guardian.

An IDF spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

In a statement to the Guardian as well as +972 and Local Call, an IDF spokesperson denied the existence of a kill list containing thousands of Palestinians.

An IDF spokesperson also told the Guardian that it “does not carry out strikes when the expected collateral damage from the strike is excessive in relation to the military advantage.”

Since the Hamas-Israel war began about six months ago, more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Foreign aid workers and journalists have also been killed by Israeli strikes. According to the UN, more than 180 aid workers have been killed in the conflict.

Seven members of World Central Kitchen, an international nonprofit organization, were killed Monday after an Israeli strike hit their convoy. Before the strike, workers had just unloaded 100 tons of aid, the New York Times reported.

“Unfortunately, over the past few days, our forces have unintentionally struck innocent people in the Gaza Strip,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said of the strike, according to CBS News.


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