NGO accuses telecommunication companies of being complicit in the Israeli occupation

In July 2018, Who Profits published a report claiming that telecommunication companies operating in the occupied Palestinian territories are complicit in the Israeli occupation. Altice, Bezeq, Cellcom Israel, and Partner Communications allegedly provide services, including several hundreds of active antennas, to illegal Israeli settlements, army bases, and military checkpoints. According to Who Profits, these companies operate in a captive market that exploits Palestinian customers.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the companies to respond to these allegations, none have responded.

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Article
13 November 2018

Commentary: Communications infrastructure in Palestine has become a tool of repression

Author: Who Profits Research Center

Critical conversations on the human rights risks surrounding communications technology have encompassed issues as diverse as the human costs exacted along the smartphone supply chain, the perils of poorly thought out queer dating apps, issues of privacy rights and state surveillance. Yet more work needs to be done on the political, economic and human rights implications of the very control of cellular infrastructure in situations of occupation... In the context of the occupied Palestinian territory, telecommunications infrastructure, though formally independent and controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestinian companies since 1995, remains occupied, its subjugation crafted into the economic protocols annexed to the Oslo Accords. Continued Israeli constraints on the bandwidth of microwave links mean that Paltel—the Palestine Telecommunication Company—is forced to route all calls between the West Bank and Gaza, and many intra-Gaza and West Bank calls, through Israeli providers... The dependence of Palestinian infrastructure on the Israeli backbone for all internet, landline and cellular activity also endows the occupying power with massive surveillance abilities, abilities that can be used not only to circulate propaganda, but also to spy on the occupied population... Since the Israeli telecommunications sector is fully privatized, it is for-profit Israeli and international corporations such as the Netherlands-based Altice and the Israeli Bezeq that carry out the exploitation of the Palestinian telecommunications sphere and that reap the profits. 

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Company non-response
12 November 2018

Altice did not respond

Company non-response
12 November 2018

Bezeq did not respond

Company non-response
12 November 2018

Cellcom Israel did not respond

Company non-response
12 November 2018

Partner Communications did not respond

Article
1 July 2018

Signal Strength: Occupied. The Telecommunications Sector and the Israeli Occupation

Author: Who Profits

... [U]under Israel’s prolonged occupation of Palestinian and Syrian land, the sphere of telecommunications has become a privatized site of control and a corporate instrument of territorial expansion. As this flash report demonstrates, all major Israeli telecommunications providers are commercially involved in the Israeli occupation. These companies build infrastructure and maintain property and equipment in illegal Israeli settlements, often on privately owned Palestinian land. They all provide services to the Israeli military and to all Israeli settlers... As of March 2018, there were 740 active Israeli civilian cellular sites located on occupied Palestinian and Syrian land, and an additional 32 sites located in no-man’s-land areas. Twenty-two new sites were approved in 2017-2018 and are presently under construction... As the Israeli telecommunications sector is fully privatized, it is for-profit Israeli and international corporations that carry out the colonization of Palestinian digital space and that reap the profits...

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