Communications outage in Gaza, the longest of the war, lasting up to one week



CNN

Almost complete loss of communications Gazalonger than warThe crisis has now continued for a week with no signs of abating, preventing humanitarian and emergency services from working effectively in the region.

This is the ninth such outage since the start of Israel's war on Hamas following the group's attacks in Israel on October 7, according to internet monitoring website Netblocks. Power outages affect physical and wireless data communications, as well as mobile phone use.

“It is almost impossible to do the work we are supposed to do,” Juliette Touma, a spokeswoman for UNRWA, the largest UN agency operating in the Palestinian territories, told CNN by phone from Jerusalem. “It's something that's very hard to imagine in this day and age.”

“When there is bombing, especially at night, you can’t get to ambulances,” Jamal Al-Rouzi, an aid worker near Khan Yunis, said in an audio message to CNN. “If you have any type of health-related emergency, you can't move because it's too dangerous.”

Some journalists and aid workers have limited communications using international or electronic SIM cards, near the Israeli or Egyptian borders. It has been difficult for CNN to conduct regular communications in Gaza over the past week.

Thursday is the seventh day of the power outage that began on January 12.

Israel has in the past faced accusations of deliberate cutting Gaza Communications – Charges that have not been commented on. While it is not possible to definitively say what caused the outage, evidence points to physical damage to the fiber lines connecting Gaza to Israel, Alp Tulker, director of Netblocks, told CNN.

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“We've been trying to understand what's going on with these outages, like everyone,” he said.

Ooredoo, one of the main telecommunications companies in Gaza, said at the beginning of this outage that “the main lines feeding telecommunications and Internet companies were repeatedly damaged.” “This led to the cessation of all our services in the south and central Gaza Strip.”

Two telecommunications workers were killed while trying to repair communications lines Khan Younes When a shell hit the company's car, Jawwal, another company that provides mobile phone services, said in a statement on January 13. The company blamed Israel for the attack. The Israeli military told CNN that it is aware of the allegation, and that the incident is under review.

Abid Zagu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

A Palestinian man produces electricity using solar panels in a makeshift tent where Palestinians charge their phones cheaply, in Rafah, Gaza, January 17, 2023.

“Without information and communication, people do not know where to go in search of safety,” Hisham Muhanna, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross based in Rafah in southern Gaza, told CNN via text message.

“Humanitarian organizations cannot work. Since the morning, our teams have been doing their best, despite enormous challenges, to deliver some supplies to hospitals in Gaza. However, without phone lines and internet, our mission is extremely complicated.

“When you're trying to plan any mission during a power outage, you can't predict what surprises or challenges the team might encounter along the way – it's difficult to maintain real-time communication with the team. This is where it gets dangerous.”

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Alrozi, who is executive director of the National Rehabilitation Association, told CNN that he struggles to have even a modicum of contact.

“What I use now is an e-SIM card that people sent me from abroad, and it works, but not all the time, not everywhere, not everywhere. So I have to walk three kilometers until I can get to a point where we can get a signal.” .

CNN He has in the past She spoke about efforts by activists abroad to provide people in Gaza with electronic SIMS.

The power outage also means that Palestinians inside and outside Gaza have no way of knowing whether family members from whom they have been separated are alive or dead. More than 24,000 people have been killed in Gaza since October 7, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.

Al-Razi said: “My brothers and sisters are not far from me, but I cannot reach them.” “I can't reach them to see if they are healthy or not.”

Paltel, which owns Jawwal, has alleged in previous incidents (for example, on November 1 and 5) that Israel deliberately cut off communications lines in Gaza, which often coincided with large-scale military operations. A senior US official told CNN in the past that the US put pressure on Israel to restore connectivity to Gaza when it was cut off. The Israeli army did not comment on these allegations at the time.

In response to this latest outage, the Israeli military said in a statement: “It is important to remember that the Gaza Strip is an active war zone and can therefore be subject to temporary interruptions in internet connectivity due to the ongoing conflicts.”

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Tulker told CNN that the outages have many possible causes.

“We also know that incidents like this have occurred due to power outages in the past. We know they have occurred due to physical damage to lines and fiber as well. So we know that these can cause this type of outage. So we cannot say for sure, For example, that Israel is flipping the switch – although that means certainly exists.”

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