As public attention to military violence continues to contract to the use of drones, Rawan Yaghi supplements her previous account of living and dying under Israeli drones in Gaza with another despatch describing Israel’s use of conventional strike aircraft, Life under the F-16s in Gaza:
With F16s, it’s a scary roar like someone is mocking sounds in a water well. It also depends on the altitude of the plane, sometimes a high pitched roar, others a low distant one. F16s are harder to spot than drones or Apaches because they are always ahead of their roar. And since you never know where the plane is going and since buildings in Gaza are crammed into Gaza, you rarely get to see the metal falcon.
She describes the intimidating ‘mock raids’, the physical and psychological damage, and the scars that will never heal:
‘I was fourteen when the AbuSelmeyyas’ house was attacked by an F16 air strike. My body shivers as I write this. The attack killed the father and mother and seven of their children, Nasrallah 4, Aya 7, Yahya 9, Eman 12, Huda 14 who was my classmate in primary school and who had the most angelic voice I’ve ever heard, Sumayya 16, and Basma 17, leaving Awad, 19 at that time, injured and alone. Fourteen others were injured in that attack, since the house was located in a heavily populated neighborhood, not very far from where I live. The attack attempted to assassinate leaders of militant groups. However it failed. In October last year, The Israeli court in Jaffa refused to give any compensations to the relatives of the family and the only member if the family left, saying the house was targeted during a “combat operation”. I wasn’t allowed to see any news about the attack. I only heard some news about it. And I learned about Huda in the morning. I heard from my brother that day that the bomb was directly dropped on the room where the mother and the children were. I also heard about their body parts being found in the buildings next to their house. I was only fourteen. What did I know.‘
What I do know – what we all surely know – is that there is more to military violence than drones; that our attention ought not to be limited to the ‘rules’ (un)governing their operation; and that the dismal desire to wage wars outside declared war-zones neither started nor ended with George W. Bush.