Study: Drone Warfare

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By Talgha Bendi

The Centre for Political and Development Studies-Gaza

Drones are Israel's latest and most advanced killing machines used to terrorize the people of Gaza.

Israel's drone expertise goes back to at least the 70's, according to the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) page of the Israeli Air Force. Israelis were the first to make widespread use of drones in Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, when the aircraft were used to monitor troop movements. Today drones patrolling Gaza have become some sort of a norm for the coastal strips 1, 7 million inhabitants. They are permanently hovering over and patrolling the skies of Gaza both day and night. The sound of drones can be heard even though they fly hundreds of kilometres above ground level. They make a loud "Zzzzz" type of noise. Residents of Gaza call these drones "zanana," because of the aircraft's distinctive buzz .Many people in Gaza say during Operation Cast Lead, two things were keeping them up at night. One was the sound of loud explosions due to air strikes carried out by Israeli F16's and Apache helicopters and the second being the sound of the drones. The Israeli Occupation Force (IOF) say that drones allow them to carry out precision airstrikes on "suspected militants", yet Human Rights Watch who documented drone strikes during the war stated that many children were killed who had no connection to militant or terrorist activity.

So what are drones exactly? Drones can be defined as (UAV's) either controlled by 'pilots' from the ground or increasingly, autonomously following a pre-programmed mission. Drones fall basically into two categories: those that are used for reconnaissance and surveillance purposes and those that are armed with missiles and bombs. The use of drones has grown quickly in recent years because, unlike manned aircraft, they can stay aloft for many hours and are much cheaper than military aircraft as they are flown remotely so there is no danger to the flight crew.

Israel is the single largest exporter of drones in the world, responsible for 41 percent of all UAVs exported between 2001 and 2011, according to a database compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Israeli companies export drone technology to at least 24 countries, including the United States and Australia who have been using drones to carry out airstrikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The siege is taking its toll on Gaza one way or another. Sleepless nights have become far too common. The population of Gaza are defenceless to Israel who has one of the most powerful armies in the region.

How does a Palestinian child holding just a stone defend himself against such brutal methods of occupation? The international community must condemn Israel's use of drones which are used to carry out airstrikes and constantly monitor Gaza. The people of Gaza have the right to live in peace, freedom and dignity.

In a short yet powerful piece, Rawan Yaghi, a Gazan blogger describes how sick and tired she is of drones over Gaza.

"Hi droning drone,

you know what: you've become a real friend of mine. I swore at you. I spit at you. You keep me awake. You have actually been talking to me all day long. Well, to be honest my friend, I tried to ignore you by using my headphones and watching TV. But you wouldn't quit, would you? Well, congratulations you've broke the record you've made more than one million friends in less than two days. Take good buzz of yourself."

As another morning dawns over Gaza, so do the drones.

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