Israeli Cyber Experts Start ‘War Room’ to Track Missing after Hamas Attack
11:55 JST, October 17, 2023
TEL AVIV, Israel (Reuters) – Hundreds of Israeli high-tech experts have temporarily put their private sector jobs aside to help locate Israelis missing after last week’s attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Hamas gunmen evaded heavy Israeli security measures to escape the Gaza Strip and storm Israeli towns and kibbutzes, killing 1,300 people and taking almost 200 into captivity. In response, Israel has bombarded Gaza for days, killing more than 2,700 Palestinians while its troops prepare a ground assault.
Karine Nahon, one of the leaders of the initiative, said volunteers have been analyzing footage – including videos posted online by Hamas – to help identify and locate the more than 1,000 people who are still unaccounted for. Any information gleaned is passed on to Israeli authorities.
Based out of Tel Aviv, the center of Israel’s high-tech and cyber security sector, the volunteers have created a makeshift command center where they use artificial intelligence and facial and voice recognition to help locate those unaccounted for after the attack, sometimes by clothing or recognizable features.
“The government right now relies on the information that is coming from these rooms,” Nahon said.
Pictures of the missing Israelis line the walls, reminding volunteers of their mission.
“We try to understand the status of each one of the missing people and we still have more than a thousand people who are missing,” she said.
They are working against the clock.
Israel has vowed to eliminate Hamas in response to the attacks while Hamas says it will execute hostages in response to Israeli strikes on civilians.
Hamas is now also removing footage of the attacks that it has posted online, suggesting that the militant group is aware those videos are being analyzed for information, Nahon said.
“Hamas now is deleting and removing videos that they have. There was a live video of how they entered into different rooms of slaughtered children, and horrible pictures.
“What they do now is they go one by one and they remove those videos, because they understand that we basically monitor that and we analyze those videos,” she said.
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