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Hamas Attack Surprise. So Much for AI
For Artificial read Fake.
The reasons why Hamas was able to take Israel by surprise in its attack out of Gaza will be debated for years to come, but the fundamental cause is clear enough: Hamas artfully steered the Israelis to a conviction that the group had stepped back from military confrontation and was now set on dealing with internal problems in the Gaza ghetto. As a revealing Reuters piece explained, the Hamas leadership carefully planted the impression that it was primarily interested in securing increased access to jobs in Israel for Gaza workers and was set on behaving “more responsibly.”. As with all successful deception operations, this was exactly what the Israelis wanted to hear, prompting, for example, the IDF to move most of the Gaza Division, normally dedicated to keeping the inhabitants locked in their vast open-air prison, to the West Bank to back up settlers in their escalating pogroms against Palestinians there. Once that mindset was successfully implanted, all evidence countering the prevailing worldview fell on fallow ground. Hamas even constructed a mock-up Israeli settlement inside Gaza to train fighters in assault tactics - undoubtedly visible to pervasive Israeli surveillance. The head of Egyptian intelligence called Netanyahu himself to warn of impending trouble. These and other seemingly undeniable signs of looming danger were ignored.
History is replete with examples of what are misleadingly termed “intelligence failures.” The 1968 Tet offensive in Vietnam, which many are citing as a parallel to the “Al Aqsa Flood” offensive in terms of its political effects, came as a complete surprise to the American high command, despite the fact that CIA officers on the ground had acquired clear intelligence of upcoming trouble, but were ignored because their reports were politically inconvenient. Similarly, Stalin dismissed copious reports of Hitler’s plans for attack in 1941 because he wanted to believe otherwise. Israel itself was of course surprisied by the 1973 Egyptian-Syrian attack, despite a variety of signs, apparent to Israeli intelligence on the ground, that an attack was coming.
However, the Hamas surprise appears to be a case in which the entire Israeli intelligence apparatus took part in the self-deception. As Haaretz columnist Chain Levinson pithily observed: “The Israel Defense Forces is calling this Operation Iron Swords, but it’s really Operation Pants Down. All the IDF and the Shin Bet security service with all their means, their drones, their eavesdropping, their human intelligence, their extortion of human sources, their artificial intelligence, the geniuses of the elite SIGINT unit 8200 – no one had a clue.”
Back in June, Ronan Bar, the director of Israel’s Shin Bet internsl security force, proudly announced that his agency had developed its own unique Generative AI system. "AI technology has been incorporated quite naturally into the Shin Bet's interdiction machine," Bar said in a speech to the Cyber Week conference hosted by Tel Aviv University. "Using AI, we have spotted a not-inconsequential number of threats." Previewing the announcement, the Israeli tech news site Tech 12 extolled the virtues of the system: “The Shin Bet's vast big data systems know everything about everyone. Even if [a terrorist] tries to hide his goals - and the Palestinians know that they are under constant surveillance - the chances are that he will be exposed.
The system knows everything about him: where he went, who his friends are, who his family is, what keeps him busy, what he said and what he published. Using artificial intelligence, the system analyzes behavior, predicts risks, raises alerts and draws the attention of the "Fauda" people to those who should pay attention to.
Other AI systems help to dub interrogators in interrogation rooms. In front of the investigators is a data screen, and every statement of the interrogated is verified and cross-checked in real time. If he is lying - the system will know how to indicate it. The shock of this information about the interrogated person makes it possible to dub him before he "cools down" in the language of the Shin Bet. It is enough to plan what to say and which version.”
Well, it turned out that the system didn’t know everything about everyone, only what the Hamas planners wanted it to know. Meanwhile, amid the chorus of outrage in Israel over the colossal intelligence defeat, U.S. intelligence has so far its own utter failure to anticipate the attack, as vividly demonstrated by National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan’s fatuous claim on September 29 that “the Middle East is calmer today than it has been in two decades.”
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