Instead of Birds, Gazans Wake up to Zanana

This constant buzzing noise is tantamount to torture.

Valentine Wiggin
3 min readMar 5, 2024
Two zanana drones in the sky
Zanana drones

Whenever I watch livestreams from Gaza, I often hear a distinct buzzing mechanical noise. It’s common for viewers to barely be able to hear the streamer’s voice over this noise. This noise is not like that of a helicopter or any commercial or military airplanes that come and go. This is a constant low-pitched buzzing.

The sound created by noisy Israeli aircrafts as well as the planes and drones themselves are called zanana (زنانة) by the locals. This word is also used to refer to the sound of flying insects or nagging wives. It generally refers to an unpleasant buzzing sound, particularly a loud one. Many Gazans, such as Bisan Owda, complain about zanana, which refers to both the aircrafts themselves and the sound they produce.

One such aircraft is a drone manufactured by Elbit Systems, an Israeli military technology company. This company also manufactures other types of drones, airplanes, tanks, night vision products, and other military equipment. These drones are not a new presence in Gaza either. An article from 2014 says that these drones are both used to kill Gazans and carry out surveillance. Since the people cannot tell which drones are used for which, they have no choice but to live with the drones’ presence.

Mahmoud Siyam, a psychiatrist from the region, has said that the presence of these drones is tantamount to torture. By continually disturbing the peace, these drones “put psychological pressure on everyone.” The drones also interfere with satellite signals, which disrupts communication. A 2014 paper titled “Sleepless in Gaza” by Alef Abu Zaif, a Palestinian writer, examines the effects of life under these drones.

Even in 2014, many people in Gaza accepted the drones as a part of life. Young activists even began poking fun at their situation by making references to pop culture such as “Drones in Black” and “Israel Mission Possible IV: Destroy Gaza”. Despite their sense of humor, however, the presence of these drones causes trauma and sleep deprivation for many Gazans.

Under these drones, around 70% of children suffer from negative effects. These effects include a constant feeling of terror as well as being unable to study for upcoming exams. Instead of thinking about school lunches or their favorite subject, children in Gaza grow up fearing the next rocket strike as the drones loom overhead. This constant stress has negative effects on their physical and mental health such as headaches, sleep deprivation, and “a state of cognitive impairment.”

It is no secret that the use of drones by Israel in occupied Palestine is torturing civilians. Not only do people there have to worry about being targeted by rockets and not appearing suspicious to their occupiers, but the constant buzzing causes sleep deprivation and constant stress. Drones are used in both Gaza and the West Bank and their negative effects on people are clear.



Valentine Wiggin

Death-positive, sex-positive, and LGBTQ-affirming Christian. Gen Z. I hate onions. She/her