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IDF trials remote-controlled riot dispersal gun in Hebron

New system, which military says is part of a pilot program, uses artificial intelligence to move into position after locking onto a target

Illustrative: Palestinians throw rocks at an Israeli checkpoint during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron on February 5, 2020. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
Illustrative: Palestinians throw rocks at an Israeli checkpoint during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron on February 5, 2020. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces has placed a new system that can remotely fire riot-control ordinance during unrest in the West Bank city of Hebron.

The riot gun, which was installed at a checkpoint on Hebron’s Shuhada Street, is being tested as part of a pilot program and currently is only being used to fire sponge grenades, the military told the Haaretz daily.

The system is also capable of shooting stun grenades and projectiles containing tear gas.

“The possibility is being examined of using a remote-controlled system for approved means for dispersing riots,” the IDF said.

According to Smart Shooter, the company that developed the system, a soldier can lock onto a target and press the trigger, with the riot gun then moving into the proper position before firing.

A prominent local Palestinian activist expressed concern over any potential “failure” by the riot gun, which uses artificial intelligence to process images.

“I see that as part of the transition from human to technological control. We Palestinians have become an object for training the high tech-industry of the Israeli army, which is not held to account for what it does,” Issa Amro told the newspaper.

Other technologies the IDF has deployed in Hebron — a frequent flashpoint between Israelis and Palestinians — have also drawn scrutiny.

In November 2020, former Israeli soldiers revealed they had photographed thousands of Palestinians to build a database for a sweeping facial recognition surveillance program in the southern West Bank city.

Hebron, which is split into areas of Israeli and Palestinian Authority control, has a population of over 210,000 Palestinians and several hundred Israeli settlers living in enclaves, mostly near its old city area.

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