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Letter to a drone

on 15 Comments

2 a.m., 27 November 2017
Abdelkareem Acklok Street
Dair Albalh, Gaza Strip

Dear friend,

I didn’t want to write you this letter, but I was provoked—you could say I was driven to it by your incessant nagging, keeping us up all night long. I have known you for a long time, since 2008. I remember when I saw you for the first time. You were terrifying—tiny, but terrifying nonetheless. It was just days after the launch of what would become a 22-day war on Gaza. When I heard your low, persistent whine, I had no idea what you were. Your sound alone caused chills to go up and down my spine. Then, seeing your sleek, silvery shape in the sky filled me with wonder and fear.

I know you aren’t human, but you are controlled by one. We have seen in the news that the people who control you sip coffee while they shoot us leisurely and remotely. When I first saw the pictures, it looked like the soldiers were only playing games. The handle they use to control you looks just like the joystick for a video game. It’s indeed like they are playing, and we are the game pieces they manipulate.

Rumors circulated wildly after your first visit. People said you are the most dangerous war machine ever invented. Some said you can read our minds and when we dream of freedom, you’ll shoot. Comedians said you can see into our very homes, closely enough that you can tell if we are eating fresh or frozen meat at our meals.

An Israeli drone is seen over Gaza city on Oct. 31, 2011. An Egyptian-brokered truce failed to take hold on Sunday to halt violence between Israel and Gaza militants in which more than ten Palestinian gunmen and an Israeli civilian have been killed. (Photo: Majdi Fathi/APA Images)

I apologize for these inhospitable reactions of my people. I know you are pissed at my friends on Facebook, who have been writing sarcastic posts about you all evening long as you settle in to spend the night with us:

The sound of drones is so much a part of Gaza life now that I tell my students to stop buzzing like drones.

If you can see this post, then you are a doomed Gazan and very bored, who can’t sleep because of the sound of the drones.

Dear drone, my greetings: I am trying to sleep, so please stop buzzing in my brain. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

The drones aren’t guests anymore. They are family members. They should have dinner with us.

Maybe I should write a book titled, “I Married a Drone and She’s Living with Me.”

Dear drone, could you please just go ahead and come in our house? It is not appropriate to leave you stranded alone on the roof, in the cold. On second thought, may you lose your sound and go to hell.

Is there any drug good for a drone headache?

These people are ignorant, believe me; you should forgive them. But let’s be honest; they are fed up. And so am I. You’ve been hovering over our heads for more than 15 days now.

We are fed up because you haven’t just destroyed many of our homes, but you also haunt our dreams.

We’re fed up because you killed hundreds of Gazans since 2008, including my brother and five close friends.  

We’re fed up because people all over the world sleep to the ordinary sounds of car horns and trains passing, while we try to sleep with your unpleasant buzzing—and with one foot almost out of the bed, ready to flee.

We’re fed up because you don’t limit your buzzing to wartime only; you’re with us even during so-called “peace.” You think it’s your job to watch us 24/7. We need some privacy, some rest.  

We are all fed up. Tonight, we’ve forgotten about our dreams of traveling, of having a good job, of receiving visitors like residents of normal countries. Tonight, we want only one thing: Just leave us and let us have a peaceful sleep. Let us dream of blue skies without your shadow, of birds singing without your whining chorus. Let us dream tonight, even if you kill us tomorrow.


Ahmed Alnaouq
Gaza project manager, We Are Not Numbers

Ahmed Alnaouq

Ahmed Alnaouq is Gaza project manager for We Are Not Numbers, a youth storytelling project.

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15 Responses

  1. Kate on November 29, 2017, 4:16 pm

    Thank you very much for this, Ahmed Alnaouq.

    Readers might also try the book ‘The Drone Eats with Me: A Gaza Diary’ by Atef Abu Saif.

    “In this luminous account of Israel’s 2014 invasion of Gaza, Atef Abu Saif creates a literary equivalent to Goya’s ‘Disasters of War’. ‘The Drone Eats with Me’ deserves to become a modern classic of war literature.v But for all the surrealist absurdity of the horrors Abu Saif chronicles, the book pulses throughout with the sublime, mundane, and ferocious love for life.” — Molly Crabapple

    • Pam on November 29, 2017, 6:58 pm

      You might be interested to know, Kate, that some of the writers are reading his book (which I edited) now, and Atef will discuss it with them. Of course, they LIVED this experience with him. But Atef’s writing style is wonderful and they can learn from him.

  2. gamal on November 29, 2017, 8:13 pm

    “of receiving visitors ”

    that was great, if no one else sees it, that was brilliant, i feel it.

    “know you aren’t human, but you are controlled by one”

    you see look at Ahmed, what did he, in the sights of these munitions, dehumanize, are you not ashamed Americans.

  3. JosephA on November 30, 2017, 12:55 am

    Ahmed, thanks for sharing your human experience with us. The world should bear witness.

  4. Bumblebye on November 30, 2017, 10:12 am

    Gaza under attack again right now. F16s, north and central.

  5. pabelmont on November 30, 2017, 11:41 am

    During a war, a drone might be said to be an aspect of war-fighting. But during non-war, the drone seems closer to torture of an entire people.

    Flying drones in a time of non-war presumably has a claimed principal effect, surveillance, but evidently has a substantial other (or side-) effect, torture.

    When the side-effect of an action (torture) out-weighs the (claimed) principal effect, surveillance, it becomes the (actual) principal effect. Torture should be and has been banned.

    • annie on November 30, 2017, 6:02 pm

      yes i think it is a form of torture

      • gamal on November 30, 2017, 7:00 pm


        yes and they don’t realise we have patience, it will play, torture hurts but we are patient people, can take our licks,

        what could be more patient than Africa meeting Jamaica and America, it will play Nas represents America, we thank him for his service..

      • annie on November 30, 2017, 7:50 pm

        whoa, powerful song and images

      • gamal on November 30, 2017, 11:34 pm

        “song and images”


        hey Annie, let me excerpt the rabjam for you, my dear..

        “Everything is wholly positive, a supreme state of spontaneous presence

        Since there never has been confusion, is no confusion, and never will be confusion,

        conditioned existence is merely a label

        It is beyond the extremes of existence and non-existence……

        Since no one has ever been confused in the past

        no one is confused at present and no one will be confused later on…

        This is the enlightened intent of original purity of the three planes of of conditioned existence…..

        “Since there is no confusion, nothing exists as some unconfused state” …..

        “There never will be freedom, because there never was any bondage”

        “complete purity, like space, is free from being restricted or localized”…..

        “There is only self knowing awareness…the blissful place of rest extending infinitely as the supremely spacious state of spontaneous equalness”

        you know what I mean “everything is wholly positive” thats religion, everything, one big salute Annie, the blissful place of rest, we shy to sell that to angry people…

  6. DaBakr on December 1, 2017, 2:36 am

    Yes my Palestinian brother. I am certain the sound of these annoying drones is as horrendous as you claim. It matters little that your leadership, the Hama’s along with Hezbollah with Iran’s billions are trying desperately to do some press worthy damage to zionists I return. I understand That you hate these drones as terror from the sky. But I have to ask you honestly, if you had the ability to send drones that the Zionist entity did notposesss, would you not use them against your arch enemy, the Zionist entity?

    • Mooser on December 1, 2017, 1:31 pm

      Jeez, I just don’t see how Mondo can last, when Zionists (Israeli? who knows) use its comment section for heartfelt appeals, the kind of appeal which renders the heart, and goes down to your kishkas.
      What moral person can resist the reasoning: ‘You would do it to us if you could, but you can’t, so we’d better do it first!’

      And what Palestinian can resist the appeal to declare they are just as vicious as Zionists? Isn’t it obvious that’s the first step towards peace?

      I guess Zionism has taken all those “Pink. Green. Brown. Black.” people to heart. Your “brothers”.

      I wonder if world-wide Zionism knew what a powerful advocate they have in “Dabakr”?

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