Palestine Israel Digital Ceasefire; Gaza’s internet

Physical and digital ceasefire in Gaza: UN, governments, Big Tech must act

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

It’s time for a physical and digital ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. Access Now supports Oxfam International and 200+ civil society organizations in calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and Israel to prevent the worsening of the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe and further loss of innocent lives. Access Now and partners extend the call further: governments, international institutions, tech companies, and other stakeholders must also ensure a “digital ceasefire” to protect open and free digital spaces and ensure the people of Gaza and Palestinians across the diaspora are able to fully exercise their rights online. Read the joint statement.

Indiscriminate targeting of Palestinian children, journalists, medical workers, and all other civilians can never be justified, and cannot be treated as the inevitable consequence of war. Likewise, social media platforms’ policies and practices that silence Palestinian voices while allowing disinformation, hate, and incitement to violence to flourish cannot be dismissed as unavoidable technical failures. Governments and tech companies cannot absolve themselves of responsibility for these atrocities. It’s time for international actors to step up and demand a ceasefire. Marwa Fatafta, MENA Policy and Advocacy Manager at Access Now

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are under siege, surviving through increasingly inhumane conditions — as hospitals, schools, refugee camps, and other safe havens are razed, and two million people are cut off from essential resources while under near-complete communications blackout. The disruption is fueling disinformation campaigns and war propaganda on social and traditional media platforms, as it becomes harder to document and verify on-the-ground reports. Globally, Palestinian voices and those speaking in solidarity are being muffled through disinformation, censorship, online harassment, doxxing, and shadowbanning. This further isolates already geographically ostracized people.

Civil society is demanding action: governments, UN bodies, tech companies, and all other actors with the power to make a difference must do it today. We need an immediate ceasefire. There can be no justice for the people in both Israel and Palestine who have suffered under crimes against humanity, war crimes, and severe human rights abuses while the bombing of Gaza continues. Giulio Coppi, Senior Humanitarian Officer at Access Now

The statement includes 25 targeted recommendations for all stakeholders, in particular: 

All parties:

  • Immediately cease the indiscriminate targeting of civilian infrastructure, including medical, energy, and telecommunications infrastructure, and, more broadly, halt the use of explosive weapons in urban areas; 
  • Protect the physical and digital safety, dignity, and integrity of anyone deprived of liberty and under their control;

Israeli authorities:

  • Immediately and unconditionally allow free, unhindered, and safe humanitarian access to Gaza and its population and facilitate the delivery of lifesaving assistance;
  • Ensure that the civilian population has access to free, reliable, stable, open, and secure telecommunications infrastructure; 

Tech companies:

  • Adhere and uphold their responsibilities to respect human rights and mitigate any risks or negative impacts of their policies, actions, and services, as per the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; and 
  • Fully investigate any cyber attacks that undermine human rights, and limit the reach of state and non-state sponsored propaganda actors and the spread of disinformation.