From Syria to Ukraine, open-source intelligence (often referred to as OSINT) has not-so-quietly revolutionized the global flow of information during times of conflict. By piecing together publicly available content, like satellite images, cellphone videos, and social media posts, open-source analysts cut through the fog of war, exposing and publicizing critical intelligence once monopolized by state authorities.
As trust in media and government institutions broadly declines, open-source intelligence is especially potent because it is seen and often trusted by audiences as an objective source of information. However, despite the inherently democratized nature of these technologies, the benefits of OSINT are not impacting everyone equally. For Palestinians in particular, open-source intelligence is a double-edged sword.
On one hand, OSINT offers Palestinians low-cost, relatively accessible tools to collect and disseminate valuable information about conflict in their region, potentially exposing war crimes or human rights violations that would otherwise go unreported or silenced by international outlets. On the other hand, Palestinians have found themselves unable to fully participate in the OSINT revolution, restricted by Israel’s tightening digital occupation and drowned out by Israeli open-source analysts who have proved neither impartial nor transparent.
By obscuring Israeli war crimes and fueling narratives that misrepresent the reality of Israel’s occupation, Israel has transformed OSINT from a tool of objectivity to one of distortion.
In recent years, anonymous OSINT accounts such as Aurora Intel and Israel Radar have cultivated growing followings with their gritty, rapid coverage of security developments across the Palestinian territories and the broader Middle East—a resource for journalists, analysts, and policymakers alike. As Israel launched its most recent assault on Gaza this summer, killing at least 49 Palestinians, Aurora Intel churned out updates on operational developments to over 225,000 Twitter followers in nearly real time.