NYT: Israel deploys facial recognition program in Gaza

NYT: Israel deploys facial recognition program in Gaza

Shafaq News/ Israel has detained hundreds of Palestinian suspects in the Gaza Strip through the utilization of an experimental, artificial intelligence-powered surveillance system, sources of Israeli intelligence officers, military officials, and soldiers told the New York Times.

The New York Times cited four intelligence officers who revealed that the program relies on Google Photos and technology developed by the private Israeli company Corsight AI to identify faces in crowds and low-quality drone footage. The paper also reported that three individuals familiar with the program spoke out about it, considering it a "misuse of time and resources."

Initially deployed to locate Israeli hostages kidnapped to Gaza, the tool has now expanded its usage to target potential suspects in Gaza, including through the army's 8200 cybersecurity unit, according to the newspaper.

A spokesman of the Israeli army told The New York Times that the military “carries out necessary security and intelligence operations, while making significant efforts to minimize harm to the uninvolved population.”

“Naturally, we cannot refer to operational and intelligence capabilities in this context,” he said.

The Times interviewed a Gazan resident, 31-year-old poet Mosab Abu Toha, who recounted an incident on November 19 when Israeli security forces singled him out from a crowd passing through a military checkpoint. Abu Toha, who claims no affiliation with Hamas, described being blindfolded and subjected to interrogation following the incident.

After being released, Abu Toha informed the Times that Israeli soldiers acknowledged his interrogation as a "mistake." However, a military spokesperson previously stated that he was detained for questioning based on "intelligence indicating a number of interactions between several civilians and terror organizations inside the Gaza Strip."

The newspaper reported that three Israeli intelligence officials, speaking anonymously, later confirmed that Abu Toha, who is currently in Cairo, was identified and apprehended using face recognition software after being found on a list of wanted individuals.

“I did not know Israel was capturing or recording my face” adding that he felt Israel had “been watching us for years from the sky with their drones. They have been watching us gardening and going to schools and kissing our wives. I feel like I have been watched for so long.”

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