digital ceasefire gaza

How Israel is shutting down the internet in Gaza

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

Access Now’s new report, Palestine unplugged: how Israel disrupts Gaza’s internet, exposes exactly how Israel is controlling and disrupting Gaza’s internet and telecommunications access, cutting Palestinians off when communication and access to information is most vital. Read the full report.

Israel’s horrific attacks on two million people in the Gaza Strip — including their homes, refugee camps, medical facilities, and telecommunications infrastructure — is being exacerbated by the occupier’s control over information flows and internet access. Communications channels and access to information have been hijacked as weapons of war to suppress Palestinian voices, as well as coverage of war crimes and atrocities on the ground. Marwa Fatafta, MENA Policy and Advocacy Manager at Access Now.

Since October 9, connectivity in the Gaza Strip has been severed through a combination of shutdowns affecting internet service providers, leading to a drastic drop in internet traffic. Entire regions have been blacked out, providing cover for human rights atrocities, and large-scale shutdowns have left two million people with nowhere to turn.

The report unpacks the changes in internet traffic that have been recorded by internet service providers during October. Key findings and recommendations include:

  • As of October 31, 15 of the 19 providers Access Now looked at were facing a complete shutdown of their mobile and broadband services. The remaining four were each experiencing significant but varying levels of disruption. Complete shutdowns have directly affected an estimated 411,000 people using these providers in Gaza and 34,000 people in the West Bank; 
  • Internet traffic across Gaza has decreased by over 80% throughout October 2023, resulting from a combination of direct attacks on civilian telecommunications infrastructure, restrictions on access to electricity, and technical disruptions to telecommunications services;
  • Governments and internet service providers should take urgent action to ensure connectivity is restored in Gaza, including by offering access to international e-SIM cards and facilitating reliable access to internet and telecommunications services; and
  • The international community should work together to end internet shutdowns and telecommunications disruptions, and enable Palestinians to build and develop their telecommunications infrastructure as stipulated under the Oslo Accords.

The overwhelming technical evidence across independent data sources confirms a severe internet outage in Gaza. Most local internet providers went out of service early on due to the bombardment of infrastructure, leaving the vast majority of Gazans without internet. Ali Sibai, Digital Security Practitioner.

Access Now thanks Ali Sibai on behalf of SMEX and Hanna Kreitem for their invaluable help and analysis during the drafting and editing of this report.