Artist's Statement

Daniel Tepper and Vittoria Mentasti

Israel pioneered the use of aerial drones in the 1970’s and 80’s, first integrating the technology into combat operations during wars with Lebanon and other Arab nations. Early experience on the battlefield aided the development of a robust drone industry that has emerged as one of the top global exporters of unmanned vehicles in the world. 

The Israeli companies that manufacture drone systems have benefited from their unique situation in the Middle East and the many conflicts surrounding their country. Today Israel’s most advanced drone systems are tested on their closest neighbors, Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. Once they are tested in real world missions, can then be marketed as having been ‘combat-proven’, the highest level of reliability for products in the defense industry.

Inside Israel, drones are considered a humanitarian weapons, keeping pilots out of danger while minimizing civilian casualties on the ground. The appeal of the technology has led to the widespread use of drones by the Israeli military to carry out airstrikes during fighting with armed Palestinian groups in Gaza. In a disturbing trend, more civilians are falling victim to drones with each new round of conflict. Inside Gaza, the drones are considered by many to be weapons of terror, similar to how most Israelis view the rockets fired at them by armed Palestians groups in the costal enclave.

Looking to investigate the production of drones inside Israel and visualize the production and consequences of drone technology, Vittoria Mentasti and Daniel Tepper photographed inside Israeli drone factories, with the Israeli military, and throughout the Gaza Strip.