Drones have also become a constant presence over Gaza, where Israeli drones are always in the air, looking for signs of rocket launches or other Hamas military activity. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights says 825 people have been killed by drones in Gaza. The Israelis use low-flying drones whose engines can be heard on the ground, and the whine of those engines is becoming the sound track of Gazan life. The Gazans call them "zenana," an Arabic word for "buzz" that in Egyptian dialect means a constantly nagging wife. The noise has become the new sound of death and fear:
“It’s continuous, watching us, especially at night,” said Amassi, a father of eight children. “You can’t sleep. You can’t watch television. It frightens the kids. When they hear it, they say, ‘It is going to hit us.’ ”The Israelis have a good reason for doing this, since the drones have a chance of spotting a rocket attack before it is launched, or at least soon enough for the Israeli retaliation to strike the men who launched it instead of a random bunch of nearby civilians. As long as Hamas keeps attacking Israel, they have to expect that Israel will try to stop them, and better drones than a repeat of Operation Cast Lead.
But the drones over Gaza summon up for me a sinister vision of life under future dictatorships, where aerial drones would monitor every move among the oppressed. Surely Saddam would have used them over Kurdistan, and over the southern marshes. Will constantly hiding from drones become the new reality in the world's conflict zones? Or even in the violent slums that surround third world cities? Is the buzz of drones the sound of the future?