A Paltel employee, speaking anonymously because the person was not authorized to speak to the media, told POLITICO on Friday that repairs were unlikely due to ongoing bombing and a lack of equipment and supplies. Additionally, he added that the company’s workers in Gaza are sheltering in place and struggling to stay in touch.
The closure could be a precursor to the much-anticipated ground invasion of Gaza, where residents have already suffered significant losses from airstrikes and targeted raids. Israeli army spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told reporters on Friday that ground troops were “expanding their activity” in Gaza and that they were “acting with great force…to achieve the objectives of the war “.
NetBlocks and internet traffic group Cloudflare were among the organizations that noted a sharp drop in connectivity in Gaza on Friday. David Belson, head of data analytics at Cloudflare, said in an email that the company saw “a decline in traffic in several governorates in the Gaza Strip” and tracked the entire traffic decline by nearly a dozen major Internet service providers in Gaza. since the attacks of October 7.
Alp Toker, founder and director of NetBlocks, said Friday that his company had spotted “the largest disruption of Internet connectivity in Gaza today,” warning that “the situation for many will be a complete or near-total blackout of Internet at this point.” »
“Today’s outages are due to bombing, direct damage,” Toker said. “We now have confirmation from the operator that this was a kinetic impact, and the conditions are consistent with a sudden failure.”
The Israeli military did not respond to a question from POLITICO about whether its airstrikes or raids targeted internet providers. However, it provided a statement saying it had expanded its strikes in Gaza “over the past few hours” and that the Israeli Air Force had struck “significantly on terrorist infrastructure.”
A spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the lack of internet connectivity, and the State Department did not respond to a request for comment.
Critical infrastructure has been a major target of attacks during the Israel-Hamas 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. Paltel has struggled to provide services in recent years, cutting phone and internet service to Gaza in 2017 amid an electricity crisis. Hamas reportedly destroyed at least four Israeli communications towers on the Gaza border as part of the October 7 attack.
The Al Jazeera news service told POLITICO it was still able to broadcast and communicate from Gaza using satellite connections.
Daniella Cheslow contributed to this report.