Telecoms and Internet Connectivity Gaza

A week in the dark: connectivity in Gaza must be restored now

Content note: The following post contains references to violence and war.

For seven consecutive days, internet and telecommunications services have been fully shut down in the Gaza Strip. This is the longest period people in Gaza have been cut off from the rest of the world since the start of Israel’s military assault in October 2023. 

Internet shutdowns are a matter of life and death in Gaza. It is unconscionable to toy with connectivity amidst unprecedented violence and unfathomable human suffering. The international community must act now to end the war and internet shutdowns. The silence so far has been glaring. Marwa Fatafta, MENA Policy and Advocacy Director at Access Now.

On January 12, at 14:23 UTC (16:23 local time), Paltel, a Palestinian internet service provider (ISP), announced the complete loss of all telecommunications services in the Gaza Strip “due to the ongoing aggression.” Cloudflare Radar’s data confirmed a drastic drop in traffic at 13:30 UTC (15:30 local time).

Amid Israel’s ongoing heavy bombardment and fuel depletion, 12 of Gaza’s ISPs have remained down since October 2023. The ongoing internet shutdowns are exacerbating the suffering of people in Gaza and have made the work of UN bodies and humanitarian organizations to serve over two million people — 85% of whom are internally displaced, starved, and traumatized — a “mission impossible.”

Since October last year, internet traffic in the Gaza Strip has significantly plummeted, with multiple full communication blackouts occurring in October, November, and December. The current internet shutdown comes at a time when two workers from Jawaal, another Palestinian ISP, were killed by an Israeli missile targeting their car on January 13, while they attempted to repair telecommunications infrastructure in Khan Yunis.

For over 100 days, Gaza has endured on-and-off disruptions and internet shutdowns, with its people now facing the longest blackout since October. With the people of Gaza continually in the dark, documenting and sharing information about what is happening on the ground is increasingly challenging, if not outright impossible. Kassem Mnejja, MENA Campaigner at Access Now.

Internet shutdowns must not be used as weapons of war. Access Now continues to call for an immediate physical and digital ceasefire and for the full restoration of telecommunications services in the Gaza Strip. The international community must act to to #KeepItOn, and put an end to internet shutdowns and telecommunications disruptions in Gaza.