A near-total internet blackout has taken hold across much of Gaza, according to witnesses on the ground and companies that monitor global connectivity.
Gaza’s largest and still largely operational telecommunications provider, Paltel, said Friday it had suffered a complete disruption of all its services after heavy Israeli bombardment earlier in the day destroyed its last infrastructure connecting it to the ‘Global Internet.
Isik Mater, research director at Netblocks, a British company that tracks global internet connectivity, said the bombing created the largest internet outage since the conflict began.
“Today’s incident represents the largest disruption of internet connectivity in Gaza since the start of the conflict and will be seen by many as a complete or near-total internet outage,” Mater said. “The loss of international routes will likely significantly limit residents’ ability to communicate with the outside world.”
Telecommunications services in Gaza were already seriously degraded since the start of the conflict. Some wrote on social media that the outages were due to bombs hitting their infrastructure.
Internet service providers and cell towers require significant power to operate. Israel cut off electricity to Gaza after the Hamas attack, and Gaza’s only power plant ran out of fuel on October 11.
Doug Madory, director of internet analytics at Kentik, an internet monitoring company, said the current outage is far worse than the last major outage in Gaza, when lack of electricity forced many internet service providers to limit access and rely on generators.
“By all measures of Internet connectivity, things are in bad shape,” Mr. Madory said.
Belal Khaled, a photographer based in Gaza, told NBC News in a WhatsApp conversation that there was a complete outage of internet and cellular services. He was only able to speak because he had brief access to satellite Internet, he said.
Husam Mekdad, a telecommunications specialist in Gaza, told NBC News earlier this week in a conversation with Signal that some internet providers have stored fuel for generators there, although supplies are invariably limited.
Connectivity was already limited because much infrastructure had been destroyed by bombing, Mekdad said. Without electricity, he was forced to charge his own cell phone from a neighbor’s solar panel.
Mekdad could not be reached for comment Friday.
This is a developing story. Please check again for updates.