Monday, December 4, 2023

Internet, phone services return to Gaza after Israeli communications cutoff

Internet and phone services are returning to the Gaza Strip following a communications blackout that humanitarian groups had warned could be used as a cover for war crimes.

Paltel Group, which provides communications services in Gaza, announced on Sunday that landline, mobile and internet services were gradually being restored after being disrupted by “ongoing aggression.”

“Our technical teams are diligently addressing the damage to the internal network infrastructure under challenging conditions,” the telecom said in a statement.

“May God protect you all and our Country.”

The Jawwal Telecommunication Company also announced Sunday that its telecommunication services were “gradually being restored.”

In a separate update posted on X (formerly Twitter), the internet monitoring organization NetBlocks said that internet traffic was being restored in Gaza.

“Confirmed: Real-time network data show that internet connectivity is being restored in the Gaza Strip; service was disrupted on Friday amid heavy bombardment by Israel, leaving most residents cut off from the outside world at a critical moment,” the message said.

Qatari-owned telecommunications company Ooredoo, which also provides cellular service in Gaza, did not provide an update on any resumption of service.

Gaza had been under a near-total communications blackout for nearly 36 hours following Israeli air attacks on Friday that Palestinian telecoms providers said knocked out communications lines and towers.

Rights organisations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch had warned that the lack of communications in the enclave was hampering efforts to document war crimes and other abuses.

On Saturday, Elon Musk said he would offer his Starlink satellite internet service to “internationally recognised aid organisations” in Gaza, prompting protests by Israel.

“HAMAS will use it for terrorist activities,” Israel’s communication minister Shlomo Karhi wrote on X.

“Perhaps Musk would be willing to condition it with the release of our abducted babies, sons, daughters, elderly people. All of them! By then, my office will cut any ties with starlink.”

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