IDF denies report that it’s using AI to build list of 37,000 targets based on Hamas ties

IDF response as sent to the Guardian
Following the murderous attack by the Hamas terror organization on October 7, the IDF has been operating to dismantle Hamas’ military capabilities.

The Hamas terrorist organization places, as a method of operation, its operatives, and military assets in the heart of the civilian population. It makes systematic use of the civilian population as a human shield, and conducts combat from within ostensibly civilian buildings, including residential buildings, hospitals, mosques, schools, and UN facilities. Contrary to Hamas, the IDF is committed to international law and acts accordingly. As such, the IDF directs its strikes only towards military targets and military operatives and carries out strikes in accordance with the rules of proportionality and precautions in attacks. Exceptional incidents undergo thorough examinations and investigations.

The process of identifying military targets in the IDF consists of various types of tools and methods, including information management tools, which are used in order to help the intelligence analysts to gather and optimally analyze the intelligence, obtained from a variety of sources. Contrary to claims, the IDF does not use an artificial intelligence system that identifies terrorist operatives or tries to predict whether a person is a terrorist. Information systems are merely tools for analysts in the target identification process. According to IDF directives, analysts must conduct independent examinations, in which they verify that the identified targets meet the relevant definitions in accordance with international law and additional restrictions stipulated in the IDF directives.

The "system" your questions refer to is not a system, but simply a database whose purpose is to cross-reference intelligence sources, in order to produce up-to-date layers of information on the military operatives of terrorist organizations. This is not a list of confirmed military operatives eligible to attack.

According to international humanitarian law, a person who is identified as a member of an organized armed group (like the Hamas' military wing), or a person who directly participates in hostilities, is considered a lawful target. This legal rule is reflected in the policy of all law-abiding countries, including the IDF’s legal practice and policy, which did not change during the course of the war.

For each target, IDF procedures require conducting an individual assessment of the anticipated military advantage and collateral damage expected. Such assessments are not made categorically in relation to the approval of individual strikes. The assessment of the collateral damage expected from a strike is based on a variety of assessment methods and intelligence gathering measures, in order to achieve the most accurate assessment possible, considering the relevant operational circumstances. The IDF does not carry out strikes when the expected collateral damage from the strike is excessive in relation to the military advantage. In accordance with the rules of international law, the assessment of the proportionality of a strike is conducted by the commanders on the basis of all the information available to them before the strike, and naturally not on the basis of its results in hindsight.

As for the manner of carrying out the strikes - the IDF makes various efforts to reduce harm to civilians to the extent feasible in the operational circumstances ruling at the time of the strike.

In this regard, the IDF reviews targets before strikes and chooses the proper munition in accordance with operational and humanitarian considerations, taking into account an assessment of the relevant structural and geographical features of the target, the target’s environment, possible effects on nearby civilians, critical infrastructure in the vicinity, and more. Aerial munitions without an integrated precision-guide kit are standard weaponry, in developed militaries worldwide. The IDF uses such munitions while employing onboard aircraft systems to calculate a specific release point to ensure a high level of precision, used by trained pilots. In any event, the clear majority of munitions used in strikes are precision-guided munitions

The IDF outright rejects the claim regarding any policy to kill tens of thousands of people in their homes.