Gaza communications blackout as Israel intensifies attack

Two men carry children covered in dust and blood amid ruined buildings and chaos

Paramedics and civilians rescue Palestinians from buildings bombed by Israel in Gaza City on 25 October. On 27 October the Palestine Red Crescent Society said it had lost contact with all its teams amid a total communications blackout in Gaza.

Saeed Jaras APA images

All communications between Gaza and the outside world were severed on Friday evening, amid reports of intensified Israeli bombardment and a possible ground invasion.

“We have completely lost contact with the operations room in the Gaza Strip and all our teams operating there due to the Israeli authorities cutting off all landline, cellular and internet communications,” the Palestine Red Crescent Society said shortly after 8 pm local time in Gaza.

“We are deeply concerned about the ability of our teams to continue providing their emergency medical services, especially since this disruption affects the central emergency number ‘101’ and hinders the arrival of ambulance vehicles to the wounded and injured,” PRCS added.

PRCS warned that Israel “will continue to commit war crimes while isolating Gaza from the outside world.”

“Hospitals and humanitarian operations can’t continue without communications, energy, food, water, medicines,” Lynn Hastings, the UN humanitarian coordinator, said Friday.

The safety of civilians, including health workers, journalists and UN staff, is “at grave risk,” she warned, adding that “wars have rules. Civilians must be protected.”

The Palestinian telecom company Jawwal announced that mobile phone and internet service to Gaza had been cut off due to heavy Israeli bombardment.

NetBlocks, an organization that monitors internet access worldwide, confirmed “a collapse in connectivity in the Gaza Strip.”

The Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq said it was “alarmed at what seems to be an intentional blackout on Gaza” and reminded “the international community that they have an obligation under international law to prevent genocide.”

The Electronic Intifada on Friday also lost contact with colleagues in Gaza with whom it had been in contact earlier in the day, as other media and human rights organizations reported that they had completely lost contact with people in the territory as well.

“With an apparent digital blackout in Gaza, some Palestinians who have still managed to communicate with the outside world said that fear and panic were spreading about what the Israeli military could be planning as airstrikes intensified,” The New York Times reported.