23 August 2006

"Pilotless" is a bit of misnomer

Details on the Israell attack on a Marjayoun Convoy of Lebanese civilians.
There are few marks on the road where the missiles hit the innocents of Marjayoun. But there are the memories of what happened immediately after the Israeli airstrike on the convoy of 3,000 people after dark on 11 August: a 16-year old Christian girl screaming "I want my Daddy" as her father's mutilated body lay a few metres away from her; the town mukhtar discovering that his wife, Collette, had been decapitated by one of the Israeli missiles; the Lebanese Red Cross volunteer who went into the darkness of wartime Lebanon to give water and sandwiches to the refugees and was cut down by another missile, and whose friends could not reach him to save his life.

There are those who break down when they recall the massacre at Joub Jannine - and there are the Israelis who gave permission to the refugees to leave Marjayoun, who specified what roads they should use, and who then attacked them with pilotless, missile-firing drone aircraft. Five days after being asked to account for the tragedy, they had last night still not bothered to explain how they killed at least seven refugees and wounded 36 others just three days before a UN ceasefire came into effect.

Who flew the drones? An Israeli soldier of the invasion force? A nameless officer in the Israel Defence Ministry in Tel Aviv? The Israelis knew a civilian convoy was on the road. Yet they sent their pilotless machines to attack it. Why? Last night, the Israeli Defence Ministry had not responded to inquiries from reporters who asked for the answer last Friday.

Somebody hit the button, somewhere from behind a cozy computer console. It has been said that air bombers from great heights are depersonalized from the act of human destruction due to the great distance. But what about the use of "pilotless" drones that make killing as easy as playing a video game? What is the moral culpability for such wanton acts where the agents invoking death can shift blame to the robotic killers executing commands calling for human termination.


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