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Israeli drone technology and the restructuring of violence

May 3, 2014 at 10:16 am

The imperialist concept of “restructuring”, or restoring order, has become common rhetoric, aiding in the transformation of violence as a socially acceptable and normalised routine. As detachment strangles perception, spectators become an essential component maintaining global violence. In cases of brutal evidence, such as the Israeli massacres perpetrated against Palestinians in Gaza, violence erroneously becomes a temporary, tangible reality.

As Israeli drone warfare becomes central to the continuation of imperialist terror, a recollection of Ehud Olmert’s words uttered in 2009 in relation to a drone strike upon an arms convoy travelling through Sudan and allegedly bound for Gaza highlights the exportation of terror originating in the settler-colonial state: “We operate everywhere we can hit terrorist infrastructure – in nearby places, in places further away, anywhere we can strike them in a way that increases deterrence… everyone can use their imagination. Those who need to know, know there is no place where Israel cannot operate. Such a place doesn’t exist.”

Reducing political violence to “imagination” preys upon the immediate reality, in harmony with the manner in which violence is portrayed as an instant occurrence. Israel’s participation in global terror has diverse consequences that should not be divested of history. A publication by Drone Wars UK, titled “Israel and the Drone Wars” (2014), states that the manufacturing of drones for surveillance and warfare started in 1974, around the time when the US embarked upon annual financial provision for military purposes. Following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, which was also marked by drone warfare, the settler-colonial state embarked upon its speciality of targeted assassinations, with an escalation in the aftermath of the Second Intifada.

Israel’s allies in the Western European and Others Group (WEOG), which have lobbied incessantly for inclusion of the settler-colonial state to combat alleged international isolation, have purchased the terror technology. NATO has also used Israeli drones in its continuing rampage in Afghanistan. Latin American countries such as Brazil, Chile and Colombia have purchased the technology for surveillance purposes.

Far from being isolated, Israel has consolidated its position as a willing accomplice in murder and oppression, utilising rhetoric of exclusion and intimidation which reflects its racist and brutal policies that themselves reflect the Zionist state’s imposition of oblivion to detract from its crimes against Palestinians. An example of racism is clearly manifested on Sky Sapience’s website, which advertises the HoeverMast-100 drone as reliable surveillance technology for “locating illegals attempting to cross your border”. The terminology is reminiscent of Israel’s use of “illegal” and subsequent refining of the term into “infiltrators”, used historically to describe Palestinians attempting to return to their villages from which they had been forcibly displaced.

Chile is one of the countries using drones for surveillance of the Mapuche population. While Mapuche presence in Chile is not disputed, Pinochet’s dictatorship enacted laws in 1979 that stated “the divided lands will no longer be considered indigenous lands, and the people living on those lands will no longer be considered indigenous”. Israeli drones used in surveillance of the Mapuche population due to their continued resistance also reflects upon the decades of settler-colonisation suffered by Palestinians. In addition, the Israeli perfecting of surveillance and targeted assassinations has created a constant state terror threat for Palestinians, whose lives may be annihilated with no warning.

Violence as a determining factor of politics necessitates a system that usurps the magnitude of interminable war into a managed, prolonged conflict which can be normalised. Despite outrage over the “collateral damage” ramifications of drone strikes, which have increased during US President Barack Obama’s tenure, the distance between technology and its operators and victims have rendered murder into a convenient abstract. The elusiveness has also been reflected in United Nations reports regarding the murders of Palestinian civilians, including children.

In the “Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism”, by Ben Emmerson, dated February 2014, evidence of indiscriminate murder by Israeli drones is not lacking, despite Israel’s vague and irrelevant insistence upon “zero-anticipated casualties”. The report’s title, however, already indicates that despite the detailed narrations, the UN’s adherence to the imperialist concept of terror provides recommendations which the organisation can ascertain but will not be implemented by the aggressors. The introduction situates the study against a backdrop of “lethal counter-terrorism operations” – a phrase reflecting imperialist-induced oblivion into the ramifications of violence.

In the case of Israel, disclosing information to authorities with regard to “alleged incidents”, or murder, thus avoiding diplomatic jargon, will be relegated to a mere utterance unworthy of consideration when compared to the ultimate aim of the settler-colonial state. If “counter-terrorism” takes precedence in UN rhetoric, the implications with regard to accountability are colossal.

Departing from the ability to induce oblivion due to the detachment involved in drone operations, the UN is missing out on one vital component – the exportation of Israel’s perfected violence to encapsulate the rest of the world. Israel has experimented with its technology upon Palestinians, effectively marketing the violation of freedom as a lucrative deal using “tried and tested” equipment.

The convenience and lack of accountability associated with drone operations is an endorsement of Israel’s settler-colonial violence. Also, the impunity reflects the ease with which imperialist oppression against Palestinians is facilitated – a trend which cannot be countered effectively unless it becomes possible to discuss the ramifications of globalised violence through legal channels which do not pertain to an imperialist legacy.

At present, drone warfare represents the fabrications of legitimacy donned by Israel and imperialism. The normalisation of global violence, aided by Israeli technology, allows the colonisation of Palestine to proceed unhindered, as an added benefit to the imperialist-supported suppliers. While on an international level changing conditions are required or instigated to ensure a permanent monopoly of political violence and the prevailing oblivion, Israel requires a continued complicity to ensure completion of its settler-colonial project in Palestine. As the restructuring of violence becomes more accessible due to drone technology and the detachment resulting in a different version of impunity, Israel will be able to export both its technological supremacy as well as the underlying experimentation upon Palestinians, garnering willing accomplices and ensuring the validity of its founders’ Plan Dalet (which led to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine) beyond the confines of a historical document.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.