Palestinians, aid groups, journalists and civil society organizations say they have lost contact with staff and families in Gaza after Israel cut the internet and communications, cutting off the territory’s residents from everything. contact with the outside world.
NetBlocks, a monitoring organization that monitors cybersecurity and the Internet, reported a collapse of connectivity in the Gaza Strip on Friday evening.
Palestinian telecommunications provider Paltel said the bombing caused a “complete disruption” of internet, cellular and landline services.
Shortly after reports of service losses, unusually heavy shelling was heard in the territory and the Israel Defense Forces said its air and ground forces were intensifying attacks in Gaza.
Already in darkness after electricity was largely cut off and fuel for generators ran out, Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been isolated from the rest of the world.
Explosions caused by continued airstrikes lit up the skies above Gaza City for hours, but the communications blackout meant the number of casualties from the strikes and details of ground incursions could not immediately be known.
Al Jazeera Correspondent Tareq Abu Azzoum reported on the ground that Palestinians are “isolated on the territory” with “no access to networks” for the moment.
Palestinians outside Gaza have been unable to contact their loved ones. Poet and author Mohammed El-Kurd tweeted: “No one I know in Gaza responds to my text messages. »
The Committee to Protect Journalists expressed concern, saying the world is “losing a window into the reality” of the conflict. He warned that the information vacuum “can be filled with deadly propaganda, disinformation and misinformation.”
The loss of communications was a further blow to the medical and humanitarian system that was already on the verge of collapse under the three-week Israeli siege.
Lynn Hastings, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Palestine, tweeted that without phone lines and internet, hospitals and humanitarian operations would not be able to function. “Wars have rules. Civilians must be protected,” she said.
Humanitarian agencies and human rights groups, including Unicef, ICRC, Médecins Sans Frontières and Amnesty, have also said they have lost contact with their staff in the besieged territory.
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said in a statement statement that they had “completely lost contact with the operating rooms due to the Israeli authorities cutting off all landline, cellular and Internet communications.”
They added: “We are deeply concerned about the ability of our teams to continue to provide their emergency medical services, especially as this disruption affects the central emergency number 101 and hinders the arrival of ambulance vehicles to The wounded “.
In a statement, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), said: “We have lost contact with our staff in Gaza, with health facilities, health workers and the rest of our partners humanitarians on the ground. This seat makes me seriously concerned for their safety and for the immediate health risks to vulnerable patients.
Erika Guevara-Rosas, senior director of research, advocacy, policy and campaigns at Amnesty International, said: “At Amnesty International, we have lost contact with our colleagues in Gaza and other rights organizations Humans are finding it increasingly difficult to document violations due to the intensity of Israeli attacks and restrictions on communications.
“This communications blackout means it will be even more difficult to obtain crucial information and evidence about the human rights violations and war crimes committed against Palestinian civilians in Gaza, and to hear directly from those who are suffering these violations. »
Guevara-Rosas added: “Internet and telecommunications infrastructure also need to be urgently restored, to enable rescue operations amid Israeli airstrikes and expanding ground operations. »