Restoration of Internet and Phone Services in Gaza Following Intense Airstrikes

by Sophia Chen
Gaza Communication Restoration Amid Airstrikes

Two days subsequent to a sudden cessation of mobile and internet connectivity in the majority of Gaza, coinciding with heavy Israeli artillery and air raids, communication networks began to be reinstated on Sunday.

This development was greeted with relief by Gaza’s residents, who had been subjected to a communications blackout since late Friday. This blackout occurred in the backdrop of Israel intensifying its ground operations and conducting aerial assaults, which lit up the night sky in bursts of vivid orange. A select number of Palestinians with international SIM cards or satellite communication devices assumed the role of informal reporters.

Telecommunications providers, internet freedom watchdog NetBlocks.org, and on-the-ground verifications confirmed by Sunday morning that many in Gaza had regained access to phone and internet services.

In the context of a prolonged Israeli blockade, the situation for Palestinians in Gaza had become increasingly grim. The cutoff of social media platforms, an essential channel for disseminating news and sharing distressing experiences, only exacerbated the residents’ feelings of despair and vulnerability. Israel justified its military operations as a reaction to a violent cross-border assault by Hamas on October 7.

Hind al-Khoudary, a 28-year-old Palestinian journalist, described the severity of the airstrikes as unparalleled in her experience, surpassing even prior conflicts between Israel and Hamas.

With connectivity virtually nonexistent, residents on Saturday navigated their war-torn neighborhoods to ascertain the well-being of relatives. Medical professionals followed the sounds of bombardment, unable to rely on emergency calls. Tragic scenes unfolded as civilians extracted casualties from debris.

Freelance photojournalist Ashraf Abu Amra, located in northern Gaza, highlighted the dire need for international intervention to save Gaza’s beleaguered populace.

Journalists with resourceful means searched throughout the 360-square-kilometer territory for even the most unreliable internet connectivity. Mohammed Abdel Rahman, another journalist based in northern Gaza, monitored Israeli airstrikes incessantly, noting concentrated activity along Gaza’s northern border with Israel.

As the aerial bombardment temporarily decreased on Saturday morning, residents seized the opportunity to visit the homes of friends and family whom they had been unable to contact.

Hind al-Khoudary reported from Shifa Hospital, the largest in Gaza, where medical staff worked tirelessly, in spite of dwindling resources, to care for the influx of wounded, many arriving from the recently bombed Shati refugee camp.

Health agencies and international organizations have warned that the communication blackout has deepened the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Doctors Without Borders acknowledged its inability to coordinate with its team in the region since Friday evening, underscoring the critical nature of the situation.

International aid bodies reported significant challenges in reaching their personnel, with Philippe Lazzarini, head of the U.N. Palestinian Refugee Agency, issuing a public letter expressing profound concern for the safety of his staff in Gaza.

Reported by Kullab from Baghdad and Magdy from Cairo, with contributions from Isabel DeBre in Jerusalem for Big Big News.

For more coverage: AP Full Coverage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Gaza Communication Restoration Amid Airstrikes

What led to the sudden loss of internet and phone services in Gaza?

The loss of internet and phone services in Gaza was a consequence of heavy Israeli bombardment and intensified ground operations. The blackout began late on a Friday and continued for two days before systems started to be gradually restored.

How did people in Gaza cope with the communication blackout?

During the communication blackout, a few Palestinians with international SIM cards or satellite communication devices assumed the role of informal reporters. Residents navigated war-torn neighborhoods to check on their relatives and medical professionals relied on the sounds of bombardment for cues, as emergency calls were not possible.

What organizations confirmed the restoration of these services?

Telecommunications providers in Gaza, along with internet freedom watchdog NetBlocks.org, confirmed that many residents had regained access to phone and internet services by Sunday morning. On-the-ground verifications also corroborated this information.

What has been the impact of the blackout on medical services and humanitarian aid?

The communication blackout severely hampered Gaza’s already overwhelmed health system and affected the operations of international aid organizations. Doctors Without Borders, for instance, reported an inability to coordinate with its regional team since the blackout commenced on Friday evening.

How did the international community respond to this crisis?

Freelance photojournalist Ashraf Abu Amra in northern Gaza called for immediate international intervention to save the people of Gaza. Philippe Lazzarini, head of the U.N. Palestinian Refugee Agency, expressed profound concern for the safety of his staff in a public letter.

How have journalists managed to report from Gaza during this time?

Journalists in the region employed various resourceful means to report, such as utilizing international SIM cards and special routers that connected to Israel’s network. Some even moved closer to the southern border with Egypt in the hope of picking up that country’s network.

What role has social media played in this crisis?

Before the blackout, social media served as a critical lifeline for Palestinians in Gaza to share news and their dire circumstances with the world. The loss of this platform intensified feelings of despair and vulnerability among residents.

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Mike_in_Finance October 29, 2023 - 7:03 am

The situation in Gaza could have serious economic repercussions too. unstable regions are bad for global markets.

CryptoKen October 29, 2023 - 1:34 pm

Communications are so vital, yet we take them for granted. Imagine not knowing if ur loved ones are alive or not, its unimaginable.

JohnDoe2023 October 29, 2023 - 3:20 pm

Wow, this is serious stuff. can’t believe people had to live without any way to reach out in such a dangerous time. Hats off to those who took on the role of reporters.

TinaTheActivist October 29, 2023 - 10:04 pm

Urgent intervention is needed, where is the international community? This is a humanitarian crisis for gods sake.

Sarah_L October 30, 2023 - 2:11 am

Heartbreaking to think about the health system getting paralyzed coz of this. How do doctors even work in conditions like that?

PolicyPete October 30, 2023 - 2:24 am

Makes me wonder about the strategic implications. Cutting off communication must be part of some larger game plan, right?


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