Israel/OPT: total communications blackout puts civilians in Gaza at even greater risk

‘This communications blackout means that it will be even more difficult to obtain critical information and evidence about human rights violations’ - Erika Guevara-Rosas

Responding to reports of a total communications blackout in the Gaza Strip, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International’s Senior Director of Research, Advocacy, Policy and Campaigns, said: 

“Palestinian civilians are already besieged in the occupied Gaza Strip and are now also trapped in a complete communications blackout, with data from internet monitoring networks reporting signals rapidly failing as air- and ground-strikes reportedly intensify, in particular in the northern and central part of the Strip. 

“We call on Israel to put an immediate end to indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks which have already killed and harmed so many civilians, including over 3,000 children.  

“Internet and telecommunications infrastructure must also be restored as a matter of urgency, to allow rescue operations amidst Israeli pounding airstrikes and expanding ground operations.
 
“At Amnesty International we have lost contact with our colleagues in Gaza, and other human rights organisations have found it increasingly challenging to document violations due to the intensity of Israel’s attacks and restrictions on communications. 

“This communications blackout means that it will be even more difficult to obtain critical information and evidence about human rights violations and war crimes being committed against Palestinian civilians in Gaza, and to hear directly from those experiencing the violations.” 

Recent internet outage detection and analysis reports have established that Netstream, one of the last remaining network providers in Gaza, suffered a major outage yesterday (26 October), while also reporting a completed outage of Netstream signals at 12:00 pm local time today (27 October). As of Friday, 15 internet service providers in Gaza have faced near-complete outages, affecting their landline, cellular and internet communications. The Palestine Red Crescent Society reports having lost contact with its entire operations room in Gaza, severely hampering its emergency services, including dealing with the victims of Israeli attacks. 

The outage in Gaza comes against a backdrop of indiscriminate Israeli attacks on homes and civilians areas, and extensive destruction of civilian infrastructure, including vital communication infrastructure. This has been compounded by a catastrophic humanitarian crisis stemming from Israel’s 16-year-long illegal blockade of Gaza, which since 9 October has been further tightened, cutting people in Gaza off from food, water, electricity, fuel and humanitarian aid.  

Amnesty reiterates its urgent call for an immediate ceasefire by all parties to the conflict in the occupied Gaza Strip and Israel to prevent further loss of civilian lives, and to ensure access to life-saving aid for people in Gaza amidst an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe. 

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