‘Precise’ Strikes: Fractured Bodies, Fractured Lives – An update on Israel’s drone wars

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Five years ago, Drone Wars published a ground breaking report examining Israel’s production, use and proliferation of military drones. Today we are pleased to publish ‘Precise Strikes: Fractured Bodies, Fractured Lives’ which brings our 2014 report up-to-date. The report looks beyond the veil of secrecy that surrounds Israel’s development and deployment of armed drones to explore their use and impact, particularly in Gaza in the five years since 2014.

Israel has been manufacturing and using unmanned military technology since the 1970s.  Yet its use of drones to launch attacks continues to be shrouded in secrecy and denial. This despite clear evidence, including leaked video footage, that Israel has used drones both for reconnaissance and monitoring purposes, as well as to launch attacks. According to Ha’aretz, drones now account for 70% of the Israeli Air Force’s (IAF) flight hours.

While advocates present drones in humanitarian terms as effectively minimising civilian casualties in so-called ‘virtuous wars’, serious concerns have been raised by human rights organisations, UN Special Rapporteurs, survivors of drone attacks, and national parliaments. The lived experience of drone warfare in Palestine highlights the cost to life and human rights of remote-controlled weaponry, indicating that discourses of precision and risk-reduction do little to convey the terror and threat of omnipresent overhead drones. Read more

Three-month snapshot shows expanding use of armed drones

Over the past few years States, international organisations and civil society groups have expressed concern about the increasing proliferation and use of armed drones.  To illustrate what is happening, Drone Wars has compiled details of the use of armed drones in the first three months of 2018.  Due to both the lack of transparency by operators and the difficulty of reporting strikes from the remote locations where they often occur, this survey is undoubtedly incomplete.  In addition the fact that multiple nations are operating armed drones to launch strikes against differing groups in Syria (US, UK, Israel, Turkey and Iran)  and Yemen (US, UAE and Saudi Arabia) makes attribution and accountability for strikes there almost impossible.  Nevertheless this short survey (1 Jan 2018 – 31 March 2018) gives something of an insight into the use of armed drones by multiple operators to launch strikes in multiple countries. Read more

‘Anarchist’ hacks Israeli drones

Mary Dobbing, co-author of Drone Wars’ briefing on Israel and the drone wars, looks at the implications of the recent news that US and British spooks hacked Israeli drone feeds.

Image of Heron TP drone - Credit: Laura Poitras/The Intercept
Image of Heron TP drone – Credit: Laura Poitras/The Intercept

The United States and Britain have been hacking into Israeli drone signals and video feeds since 1998 we have learned from latest publication of leaks from former US NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The details were published by The Intercept at the end of January. “This is an earthquake, the worst leak in the history of Israeli intelligence” shouted the headline in The Times of Israel quoting “a security source”. The information hacked related to video feeds and routes-over-the-ground that the drones were flying. Read more

Campaigners claim victory as High Court throws out injunction against protests at drone factory

Campaigners celebrate outside court after injunction set aside
Campaigners celebrate outside court after injunction set aside

Campaigners claimed complete victory over Israeli-owned drone engine manufacturer UAV Engines yesterday when the company withdrew its application to the High Court to continue an injunction taken out against protesters.   Worse was to follow for the company as Judge Purle agreed with campaigner’s arguments that the injunction should never have been granted in the first place and the High Court set the Order aside ab initio (that is, ‘from the beginning’) .  The Judge stated: Read more

Drone proliferation in light of increased targeted killing

Drones_for_saleThe news that the UK has followed the US and Israel in using armed drones to launch a targeted killing outside of UN sanctioned armed conflict should make the international community even more concerned about the growing proliferation of armed drones.

All three countries known to have used armed drones have now gone beyond the generally accepted provisions of international law in this area, although perhaps unsurprisingly the countries themselves refute this. Read more

Campaigners seek to overturn injunction against protests at Israeli-owned drone factory

High Court rules to lift ban on protests at Israeli drone factory

The High Court today lifted a ban on protests taking place within a 250 metre “forbidden zone” around an arms factory in Shenstone. The ban came in the form of a temporary junction granted by the court on 30 June to UAV Engines Ltd in order to prevent protests outside the factory. Campaigners challenged the injunction in court today, claiming that it was designed to prevent people from exercising their right to free speech and protest at a factory manufacturing weapons used in human rights abuses abroad. Read more