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31 Okt 2023

Palestine: Efforts to restore telecommunication services ongoing in the besieged Gaza Strip following intensified Israeli bombing & ground invasion

On Friday, 27 October, Israeli bombardment caused the Gaza Strip to lose all connection to the internet. Critical infrastructure has been a major target of attacks throughout the history of this conflict. An Israeli airstrike destroyed Gaza’s only power plant in 2014, and Israeli airstrikes in recent weeks have targeted at least 7,000 structures in Gaza. This blackout was followed by the beginning of the ground invasion of the strip amid international outcry against the invasion and the intensified bombardment.

Social media users called on Elon Musk to provide internet access to the besieged people of Gaza as he had done instantly in February 2022 for the Ukraine following Russia's attack. Musk stated that he's willing to provide it only for "recognized aid groups". Following strong opposition from Israel, Musk denied providing the service and stated that the company will do a security check "before turning on even a single terminal”.

Evidently, it is thanks to the work of the technical teams of the Palestinian telecommunications companies, Paltel and Jawwal, to repair the damage from the bombardment that led to the partial restoring of telecommunication services to the besieged strip. Community led efforts also managed to provide journalists in Gaza with eSIMs to ensure they’re able to continue their crucial work.

Gaza has been subjected to three communication blackouts, in Oct. 27, Nov. 1 and Nov. 5, manifesting in the near total disconnection from the outside world. Intensified bombing and ground operations have followed each of these blackouts rendering it impossible for rescue operations to be conducted or for any Israeli warning to be effectively communicated to civilians. Following the blackouts that lasted from hours to days, internet connectivity levels abruptly returned across the strip to pre-disruption levels which points to some form of technical disruption as a potential cause together with the bombardment of crucial infrastructure.