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Collateral Murder 2.0

When the footage of Reuters journalists and civilians were Wikileaked to the world, there was outrage and shame. A shame exhibited by some in the US government causing them to reel from the crime that had been exposed, to downplay the prevalence of such murders and ultimately to shift the blame to Julian Assange and Wikileaks itself. It worked in the end, Assange is locked away in judicial purgatory, the wider world has mostly forgotten about what Wikileaks had revealed and mainstream-legacy-official media has become a predominantly homogenised mouth piece for power. With few exceptions. Now, we see another moment of an execution of the unarmed released for the world to see, evidence that can further prove the murderous nature of a government but will there be any justice?

The footage came from an IDF drone that Hamas had downed, the aerial predator possessed the evidence of a recent execution that was handed to Al Jazeera and now on our screens. The footage from the drone shows four unarmed males, many sources have claimed that they are ‘youths’, ‘teenagers’ or young men who are clearly unarmed, walking to the ruins of their homes. The drone sends a missile that kills three of them instantly. The remaining survivor limps his way on, making it some distance from his dead comrades before he is also blown to death. It is a cold display of the disparity of power between certain governments and their ‘enemies’ while also showing how easy it is for killers to take life without any risk to themselves.

The four dead Palestinian males are clumped into the statistics of death. Because they are males, whatever age, unarmed or not they will likely be called ‘terrorists’ or ‘combatants’. In the mathematics of government killers any male over about the age of ten is usually seen as a combatant, even if they have no intention or have never waged war. Armed or not does not matter, the possession of a penis itself is enough to confirm their guilt. And the jury of trolls and officials alike have already decided on the guilt of the dead.

As the footage does the rounds online the reactions confirm only what many of those watching already knew or believed. Such responses range from the disgust at witnessing a ‘war crime’, as though a war is being fought in the traditional sense. Those who simply hate Jews, it becomes further ammunition to feed such bigotry. Those who oppose Zionism and how the Israeli government is executing its bloody policy in Gaza, it is another example. Then you can find the apologists, those who may see all Muslims (because it’s always assumed that a Palestinian is not a Christian or even atheist) as a dangerous threat. And those who are not convinced that the killed were unarmed non-combatants, because apparently the IDF would not do such a thing otherwise.

These males are not soldiers. not even considered soldiers by their killers. By default they are accused of being criminals or terrorists. But a criminal, it is understood should have the benefit of a trial. The accused deserves even the theatrics of justice, see the persecution of Julian Assange as an example. No one can refute the terrorism that Ted Bundy for a time wrought on women across the USA, the threat of such a man would not have justified the random executions of any man in his age range let alone any male at all.

Instead, the executed are not even suspects of anything in particular. They are just subject by default to be killed, eradicated, exterminated. A weed or pest. When history gives us examples of the powerful conducting themselves with such a mindset, we know what the outcome is, we understand what the intention always was. This is genocide. Technowar has just perfected the means of murder.
To conflate the conduct, that we are witnessing with any sense of rule of law, or supposedly Western values is a pollution of the claimed dignity to both of those institutions, above all it validates the mass murder. The escalation of extra-judicial killings from targets in the past such as Hani Abed, who was suspected of killing two Israeli soldiers or Yayha Ayasha, a Hamas bomb maker now includes basically anyone in Gaza and the territories that Israel deem as ‘Free Fire Zones’, locations that allows them the right to kill anyone they wish.

It is unlikely that anyone in the Israeli government has sat down and had a conference discussing the purity of those who are allowed to live and those condemned to die. Instead, the masters of asymmetric warfare, not just limited to Israel, but those the world over have decided that any male can be killed and called, ‘insurgent’, ‘terrorist’, ‘combatant’ or suspect. An entire populace can be exterminated over time if it is called an ‘embargo’, ‘sanctions’ or if it’s the policy of the chosen or exceptional.

Even if these men were in uniform as armed agents of an enemy state, the imagery of helpless Russian conscripts being drone blasted by the Ukrainian military has only soured the depiction of the purity of that war. Yes, the enemy is to be killed in war, snipers, artillery and mines are all used to kill unsuspecting combatants, the drone being another element to this mix. The footage of a man, usually teenagers, peering upwards, well aware of their executioner above reveals the inhumanity of war. Then to witness the repeated callous observation from the drone operators perspective as they follow their target, life hanging in the balance, the finger from the distant human sending the kill-signal to the airborne robot predator. A finger pull that unleashes a missile which moments later blows flesh from bone in the most miserable manner. Media outlets, ‘blurring’ the gore for our consumption.

The photo of a Japanese soldier standing over his unarmed and bound prey, with sword raised, the black and white moment frozen in time, captured just before the death blow depicts unmistakable savagery. Rows of bound, mostly men and boys, Chinese prisoners helpless as Japanese soldiers puncture them to death with bayonets but an instant that is known as an evil blemish in history. The Japanese empire and it’s many killers conducted itself with brutal and sadistic violence, the killing usually unordered, arbitrary and coming from the soldiers on the ground themselves, despite any political or military masters desire or indifference to the terror. It was how the Japanese empire waged war. And the world judged them for it, the shame of such a history so great that it is denied or omitted to this day in Japan.

Watching the social media clips of Israeli citizens and soldiers gleefully rummage through the ruins of Gaza, defiling bodies or partying outside the ‘warzone’ as aid trucks at best trickle through barricades, a sort of sadism is on display. It’s how Israel deals with its enemies. The atrocities are validated by a sense of supremacy, the Japanese had their Shinto beliefs and imperialistic theology, modern Israel has now wrapped itself in an equally recently invented imagination of ancient writ. We must remember the 7th of October and the terror that was inflicted upon the innocent, we are reminded. Yes, let us remember that the innocent were murdered, because that is understood to be evil.

To kill the prison guards families and neighbours is not justifiable, even if the guards were terrible. To kill the families of those and anyone remotely associated by geography, race or class to a terrorist is also unjustifiable. The four executed are more bodies to be added to the stack. Their killers are righteous, they have decided as much. War declared or not. Immediate act of terrorism, committed or not. The four were to die simply because the drone operator decided so. Power is its own justification and with powerful friends one finds ratification. Israel is supported by powerful friends.

We have spectated many moments when life explodes into instant or painful death. We have watched with indignity the necrophiliac vulgarity of death porn labelled as foreign policy, exciting the killer’s cheerleaders while inciting those near or empathetic to the victims. The dead gone, lost, forgotten except for that moment of viral fame. Chances are by the time this piece is published, the scrolling world would have moved on, indignity washed away by the current thing of digital outrage or cheer. In Palestine, dirt is congealed into a mud that only blood and entrails create and the dead, the forgotten, the pixels on a screen will be joined by thousands, if not millions more. The killers never running out of missiles, bullets and dollars but the dead and dying eventually run out of living. Rest assured future genocides will be in virtual reality, easier for us to see it all while safe at home.

March, 2024

Published inAll Articles and EssaysWar, History and Foreign Policy