Civilians in Gaza at unprecedented risk as Israel imposes communication black-out
Photo by Abed Zagout/Anadolu via Getty Images
ISRAEL/OPT: Civilians in Gaza at unprecedented risk as Israel imposes communication black-out during bombardment and expanding ground attacks
27 October 2023
Responding to reports of a total communications blackout in the occupied Gaza Strip, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Senior Director of Research, Advocacy, Policy and Campaigns at Amnesty International, said:
“Palestinian civilians are 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 organizations 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 & Analysis (IODA) reports established that Netstream, one of the last remaining network providers in Gaza, went dark on Thursday 26 October, while also reporting signals at 12:00 PM local time on Friday 27 October. As of Friday, 15 ASN/ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have faced near-complete outages, affecting their landline, cellular and internet communications. The reports having lost contact with its entire operations room in the Gaza Strip, severely hampering its emergency services, including tending to victims of attacks.
An intentional shutdown happens when a state or another actor disrupts the internet for a specific population, or within a specific region. Shutdowns take a variety of forms. Authorities may slow down the internet to make access difficult, or they may order ISPs to shut down services completely.
This outage in Gaza comes against the backdrop on homes and civilian areas, and extensive destruction of civilian infrastructure, including critical communication infrastructure. This is 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 that has cut Gazans off from food, water, electricity, fuel and humanitarian aid.
Amnesty International reiterates its 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.
As announced Friday evening, the Israeli army in the occupied Gaza Strip. Access to the internet and telecommunications networks is essential to the protection of human rights, especially in times of conflict. Amnesty International’s research has previously shown that internet shutdowns facilitate repression and violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.