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Fight-to-finish: Israel Deploys New Military AI In Gaza War

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Israel’s army has deployed some AI-enabled military technology in combat for the first time in Gaza, raising fears about the use of autonomous weapons in modern warfare.

The army has hinted at what the new tech is being used for, with spokesman Daniel Hagari saying last month that Israel’s forces were operating “above and underground simultaneously”.

A senior defence official told AFP the tech was destroying enemy drones and mapping Hamas’s vast tunnel network in Gaza.

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New defence technologies including artificial intelligence-powered gunsights and robotic drones form a bright spot in an otherwise dire period for Israel’s tech industry.

The sector accounted for 18 percent of GDP in 2022, but the war in Gaza has wreaked havoc with an estimated eight percent of its workforce called up to fight.

“In general the war in Gaza presents threats, but also opportunities to test emerging technologies in the field,” said Avi Hasson, chief executive of Startup Nation Central, an Israeli tech incubator.

“Both on the battlefield and in the hospitals there are technologies that have been used in this war that have not been used in the past.”

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But the rising civilian death toll shows that much greater oversight is needed over the use of new forms of defence tech, Mary Wareham, an arms expert at Human Rights Watch, told AFP.

“Now we’re facing the worst possible situation of death and suffering that we’re seeing today –- some of that is being brought about by the new tech,” she said.

More than 150 countries in December backed a UN resolution identifying “serious challenges and concerns” in new military tech, including “artificial intelligence and autonomy in weapons systems.”

– ‘Angry Birds’ –

Hamas on October 7 launched an unprecedented attack on Israel, resulting in the deaths of about 1,160 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

Hamas also seized around 250 hostages, and Israel says some 132 remain in Gaza including at least 29 believed to have been killed.

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Israel’s military response has killed nearly 28,000 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-ruled territory’s health ministry.

Like many other modern conflicts, the war has been shaped by a proliferation of inexpensive unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, which have made attacks from the air easier and cheaper.

Hamas used them to drop explosives on October 7, while Israel has turned to new tech to shoot them down.

In a first, the army has used an AI-enabled optic sight, made by Israeli startup Smart Shooter, which is attached to weapons such as rifles and machine guns.

“It helps our soldiers to intercept drones because Hamas uses a lot of drones,” said the senior defence official.

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“It makes every regular soldier — even a blind soldier — a sniper.”

Another system to neutralise drones involves deploying a friendly drone with a net that it can throw around the enemy craft to neutralise it.

“It’s drone versus drone — we call it Angry Birds,” the official said.

– Hamas tunnels –

A pillar of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vow to “destroy” Hamas is quickly mapping the underground tunnel network where Israel says the group’s fighters are hiding and holding hostages.

The network is so vast that the army has dubbed it the “Gaza Metro” and a recent study by US military academy West Point said there were 1,300 tunnels stretching over 500 kilometres (310 miles).

READ ALSO: Gaza Population In ‘Grave Peril’, Says WHO

To map the tunnels the army has turned to drones that use AI to learn to detect humans and can operate underground, including one made by Israel startup Robotican that encases a drone inside a robotic case.

It is being used in Gaza “to enter into tunnels and to see as far as the communication lets you,” the senior Israeli defence official said.

Before the war the technology did not allow drones to operate underground because of issues sending images to the surface, the official added.

The conflict has raised human rights concerns but also cemented Israel’s status as a world-leading manufacturer of cutting-edge defence systems.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that the United States — Israel’s main international ally and provider of billions of dollars each year in military aid — was training its own soldiers to shoot down drones using Smart Shooter’s optic sights.

In late January, three US soldiers were killed in a drone attack on a base in Jordan.

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Obaseki Warns Against Open Grazing, Solicits Stakeholders’ Support

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Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State has said the ban on open grazing in the state still remains, warning that anyone found wanting will be made to face the full wrath of the law.

The governor said this while addressing stakeholders during an interactive session on the Edo State Regional Development and Benin City Master Plan, held at Iguobazuwa, Ovia South-West Local Government Area of the State.

Obaseki who reassured the government’s commitment to the safety and security of residents, called for the collaboration and support of all stakeholders to ensure a peaceful, secure and prosperous Edo State.

He said, “Any herdsman in our bush without permission is working against the law of our State, and anything that happens, they can’t blame anyone.

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“Let us be sure that nobody gives that person the permission to enter our forest and if permission will be granted, let us know the type of permission given to them to come into our bushes or forest to graze with their cattle.

“Open grazing is banned in Edo State. If they are in your forest, let us know where they are because we have police and vigilantes who will help us get them out through a number we will give you to call.”

Obaseki added, “Anybody that wants to do ranching business should contact you, the community people and you will decide on the land to use and method of feeding their cattle. They should do the business with you and not invade our forest indiscriminately as if there are no owners. The forest and bushes belong us.”

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Nigeria Air: EFCC Arrests Ex-Buhari’s Minister Over N8bn Fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has arrested Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation under former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration over an ongoing N8 billion money laundering probe of Nigeria Air.

Vanguard gathered that Sirika arrived at the Federal Capital Territory Command of the EFCC at about 1:00 pm on Tuesday.

Sirika is currently being quizzed by the EFCC investigators over alleged fraudulent contracts awarded by him to a company known as Engirios Nigeria Limited, owned by his younger sibling, Abubakar Sirika.

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Recall that, in February, EFCC investigated the activities of the Aviation Ministry under Sirika for conspiracy, abuse of office, diversion of public funds, and contract inflation.

Others are criminal breaches of trust and money laundering amounting to N8,069,176,864.00 during Sirika’s tenure in office.

Apart from being listed as the company’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Abubakar is said to be the sole signatory to the company’s two accounts, domiciled in Zenith and Union Banksy.

READ ALSO: BREAKING: EFCC Chair Vows To Follow Yahaya Bello’s Prosecution To Conclusion

It was gathered that the ex-minister’s younger brother, Abubakar Sirika, has been arrested and detained by the commission in connection with N3,212,258,930.18 paid to his company, Engirios Nigerian Limited’s, bank account by the former minister.

It was noted that there is no trace of work done on any of the contract items to date.

Sirika was arrested Sunday February 4 to assist the commission in its probe of the Aviation Ministry’s financial expenditures during his tenure.

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BREAKING: EFCC Freezes Over 300 Accounts Over Suspicious FX Flows

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The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ola Olukoyede, says the anti-graft agency has discovered another worse scheme other than crypto trading platform Binance and its system.

He said the agency has frozen about 300 accounts to ensure the safety of the foreign exchange market.

READ ALSO: BREAKING: EFCC Chair Vows To Follow Yahaya Bello’s Prosecution To Conclusion

The scheme popularly called the “P to P” peer- peer financial trading scheme has operated outside the official banking and financial corridors and there was a looming disaster that could further crashed the Naira value that has continued to gain.

“There are people in this country doing worse than Binance,” he said, adding that over $15bn passed through one of the platforms in the last one year, outside the financial regulations.

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