Israeli “War Room” Mobilizes AI Experts to Locate Hamas Hostages

In this post:

  • Israeli volunteers transform creative agency into a tech-driven “war room” to locate and rescue Hamas hostages in Gaza.
  • Cutting-edge AI and social media analysis help pinpoint hostage locations in real-time, aided by tech giants like Google and Microsoft.
  • Personal commitment drives volunteers as they work tirelessly to bring the hostages back home amid an uncertain future in the Gaza conflict.

In a race against time, Israeli volunteers from diverse professional backgrounds have transformed a prominent creative agency, Gitam BBDO, into a high-tech “war room” focused on locating and rescuing 203 hostages held by Hamas militants in Gaza. This initiative comes in response to the recent conflict initiated by Hamas against Israel.

From creatives to rescuers

Gitam BBDO, a leading creative agency in Tel Aviv, has undergone a remarkable transformation. Within a day of the Hamas attack, it evolved into a “war room” staffed by volunteers who’ve put aside their regular jobs to contribute to the rescue mission. These 203 hostages were captured amid the ongoing conflict, which has seen civilians deliberately targeted in what has been described as an “open-air prison.”

The two-floor operation

The “war room” operates on two floors, each with a distinct mission. One team of creatives focuses on generating worldwide support for the hostages through various awareness campaigns, including videos featuring celebrities like Mayim Bialik from “The Big Bang Theory.” These videos have gone viral, transcending language barriers through the use of AI translation.

The second floor, more technologically oriented, employs facial recognition tools and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to ascertain the status of the hostages and pinpoint their last known locations within Gaza. This innovative approach is spearheaded by Refael Franco, who founded Code Blue, a crisis management company.

Tracking hostages through AI and social media

The team leverages data from social media platforms within Gaza to track the hostages. By analyzing factors like the number of texts sent and app usage on their phones, as well as the frequency of specific emojis used, they build a digital profile. This data is then processed using software called “tag box,” which cross-references it with images provided by families and the military to identify potential matches.

Once a match is found, the information is shared with the IDF’s task force dedicated to locating missing and displaced individuals. The “war room” displays a map of Gaza with colorful dots marking the locations where hostages have been identified, showcasing the effectiveness of this collaborative effort.

Tech giants and volunteers unite

Franco attributes part of their success to collaboration with tech giants like Google and Microsoft, who have lent their support. Volunteers in the “war room” come from various disciplines, such as AI, facial recognition, geolocation, and cybersecurity, showcasing the fusion of diverse talents that is emblematic of Israeli innovation.

“What we have built here is a hub of abilities from many disciplines. This is what Israeli technology knows how to do quicker than other places – to do it fast, creatively, and deliver results,” says Franco.

A personal commitment

The volunteers, regardless of their backgrounds, share a deep personal commitment to this mission. “Most of us have our skin in the game with family or friends that are hostages in Gaza, so we are totally committed to this. It’s not professional, it’s personal,” explains Omri Marcus, who leads the creative efforts.

Marcus himself has a close connection to one of the hostages, his best friend’s cousin, along with other distant family members. This deeply personal involvement drives their dedication to bringing the hostages home safely.

Uncertain future, but unwavering focus

As Israel’s defense minister has announced a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army faces the dual challenge of eradicating Hamas and rescuing civilian hostages. The Gazan civilians, trapped within the conflict zone, have limited options for refuge.

“I really don’t know what will happen or what the army will do,” says Franco. “I am just trying to focus on our war room.”

The “war room” in Tel Aviv exemplifies the remarkable capacity of diverse talents and cutting-edge technology coming together in a time of crisis to address a pressing humanitarian issue. As the clock continues to tick, the determination of these volunteers remains unwavering in their quest to bring the hostages back home safely.

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