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At a time in my life when I barely knew drones existed, a young Lebanese mother mourning the death of her six-year-old daughter, Zainab, helped me understand how monitoring by drones terrified her and her neighbors.
It was the summer of 2006, during a war referred to as the Israeli-Hezbollah war.
Kathy Kelly in Beirut, Lebanon, during the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah war. [Source: Farah Mokhtarazadei]
On July 30th, around 1:00 a.m., Israeli warplanes fired missiles at buildings in Qana, Lebanon, a small village in southern Lebanon. One missile, a bunker buster supplied by the U.S. corporation Raytheon, caused a three-story building to collapse, killing an extended family of 27 people. Fifteen of them were children.
Two weeks later, with a team of international observers, I visited Qana because of reports of a massacre there.
Driving toward the village, we saw men preparing cement structures for burials.
We entered the village on foot and saw men arranging white plastic chairs for guests who came to mourn with family members.
Four women sitting quietly in an outdoor patio invited Farah Mokhtarazadei and me to join them.
Each time a neighboring woman arrived, the women would stand and embrace one another. They had borne their pain for 18 days, since the bombs slammed into homes in their village. The mass funeral had been delayed until families could safely gather for burials.
One mother had suffered injuries. Under her veil, she wore a medical hood, and a thick brace encircled her neck.
She stiffly shifted her tall, slender body, unable to point across the street to what was once a building where frightened children huddled together for shelter during the bombing. One of those children was her six-year-old daughter, Zainab.
She winced as she tried to gesture upward. “Didn’t they know?” she asked. “Didn’t they see?”
Later, I realized she was referring to surveillance drones,