Published on October 18, 2023, 8:09 pm
Image source: Fox News
The Israeli army is utilizing cellphone data from Palestinians in Gaza as part of its military operations to monitor the movement of the population. This initiative, described by recent reporting in The New York Times, involves real-time monitoring of over 1 million Gazan cellphones and aims to reduce civilian casualties.
The IDF’s decision to use this approach came in response to terrorist attacks by Hamas on October 7, which targeted civilians and resulted in over 1,400 deaths. In retaliation, the Israeli Air Force has been conducting daily airstrikes throughout the Gaza Strip since then. By October 11, they had already dropped an astounding 6,000 bombs. Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari emphasized that the priority is causing damage rather than ensuring accuracy.
The timing of the Times’ report and the journalist’s access may indicate a deliberate recalibration of the IDF’s messaging ahead of a potential ground offensive into Gaza. The past ten days have seen approximately 3,000 reported Palestinian fatalities, with over 500 today alone due to a hospital explosion. Given these circumstances, it raises questions about how effective the IDF’s extensive monitoring program is in actually reducing civilian casualties.
Cellphone data plays a significant role in Israel’s military strategy in this conflict. For instance, last Friday, Israel issued evacuation orders for approximately 1.1 million residents of northern Gaza within a 24-hour period to ensure their safety. Meanwhile, soldiers stationed in southern Israel track the location data of over 1 million cellphones displayed on a live map of the Gaza Strip. They use this information to monitor residents’ movement from northern Gaza towards the south.
According to reports from The New York Times, as of midday Monday, roughly 700,000 out of the initial 1.1 million residents had relocated to the south based on data from this tracking system. IDF officers situated in control rooms were making individual phone calls urging the remaining 400,000 residents to evacuate. This cellphone data assists the IDF in assessing civilian presence and adjusting military actions accordingly, with neighborhoods turning green on the map once at least 75% of the population has relocated.
Apart from the goal of minimizing civilian casualties, an empty urban environment would likely benefit the IDF’s military operations. Conversely, Hamas is urging residents to stay in northern Gaza, claiming that nowhere in the region is safe. Yet, their motivation may be to enable militants to blend in with civilian populations when necessary.
The use of digital tools has become increasingly crucial in modern warfare, as seen in conflicts like this one between Israel and Hamas. The IDF’s data-tracking system demonstrates how technology is integral to military strategies. However, critics express concerns about its potential ramifications. While the displacement is aimed at ensuring safety, it has led Gazans into areas still vulnerable to airstrikes. Furthermore, there are broader ethical implications surrounding the use of personal data in military operations that raise concerns among human rights advocates. In a place like Gaza, often referred to as an “open-air prison,” such surveillance programs raise questions about privacy rights and data security—a contrast to the fundamental embrace of these rights within Western democracies.
The Israeli military’s strategy of using cellphone data reflects the evolving nature of modern warfare. As events continue to unfold in Gaza, the global community will closely observe and analyze the impact of these data-driven military approaches.
Original article posted by Fox News