Internet access severed in Gaza as IDF announces ‘expanding’ ground operation

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Internet access in the Gaza Strip has been severely limited as Israel’s military announced an expansion of its ground operation, according to internet monitoring firms and healthcare organizations working in the region.

The Palestine Telecommunications Company — also known as Paltel — said on Facebook that the outages were the result of its infrastructure being destroyed by “intense bombing.” The outages cover access to cellular, internet and other communications services. Some people are able to communicate with satellite phones, but access is limited.

“We regret to announce a complete cessation of all communications and Internet services with the Gaza Strip,” they said, according to a translation.

“The intense bombing in the last hour caused the destruction of all remaining international routes linking Gaza to the outside world, in addition to the routes previously destroyed during the [campaign], which led to an interruption of all communications services.”

Internet access monitor Netblocks and Georgia Tech’s Internet Outage Detection and Analysis (IODA) project both confirmed that internet access was at an all time low.

Alp Toker, director of NetBlocks, told Recorded Future News that the incident “is perhaps the largest single disruption to internet connectivity in Gaza since the beginning of the conflict and will be perceived by many as a total or near-total internet blackout.”

“Paltel is the last standing major internet operator service in the region. We understand at present that the Paltel outage may be linked to heavy bombardment by Israel today, although recent outages have also been caused by the depletion of emergency fuel supplies for generators,” he said.

“Some of their last international routes were just physically struck.”

IODA said just 15% of Gaza’s networks are responding to their pings and that number fell to 7% within an hour. NetBlocks and several others reported this week that another internet provider NetStream collapsed as well due to a lack of fuel to sustain their infrastructure.

The outages corresponded with an announcement by Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari that the country is expanding “the number of airstrikes in Gaza in a very significant way.”

“In addition to the offensive activity we have conducted in recent days, our ground forces are expanding their operations tonight. The IDF is operating in all dimensions in order to accomplish the goals of the war,” he added, according to Axios.

In addition to outages affecting the ability of 2.3 million people within Gaza to communicate with the outside world, the Washington Post and Al Jazeera reported that residents were unable to coordinate within the territory, making efforts to evacuate difficult.

Healthcare organization Palestine Red Crescent Society said it has “completely lost contact with the operations room in Gaza Strip and all our teams operating there,” noting that all landline, cellular and internet communications have been cut off.

“We are deeply concerned about the ability of our teams to continue providing their emergency medical services, especially since this disruption affects the central emergency number ‘101’ and hinders the arrival of ambulance vehicles to the wounded and injured,” they said.

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Jonathan Greig is a Breaking News Reporter at Recorded Future News. Jonathan has worked across the globe as a journalist since 2014. Before moving back to New York City, he worked for news outlets in South Africa, Jordan and Cambodia. He previously covered cybersecurity at ZDNet and TechRepublic.

 

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