Israel’s Bombing Cuts Off Gaza’s Phone and Internet Services, Isolating Millions of Palestinians
Israel escalated its assault on the besieged Gaza Strip late on Friday, severing phone and internet communications in the embattled Palestinian territory and raising fears of a ground invasion.
Israeli warplanes pounded Hamas tunnels and underground bunkers in northern Gaza, the military said, as part of its campaign to crush the territory’s ruling militant group after its bloody raid in southern Israel on October 7.
The airstrikes caused widespread damage and disruption, leaving the 2.3 million people in Gaza isolated and in the dark. The Palestinian telecom provider, Paltel, said the bombardment destroyed “all remaining connections between Gaza and the outside world”, leading to the complete interruption of communications services.
The blackout meant that information coming out of Gaza was reduced to a trickle, making it difficult to verify the extent of casualties and destruction. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, more than 2,400 people have been killed and over 9,000 injured by Israeli attacks since October 7. The UN said that more than 532,000 people have been internally displaced and that many are sleeping on the streets or in overcrowded shelters.
The Israeli military said it was expanding its ground operations in Gaza and that it could not guarantee the safety of journalists working in the enclave. It also warned civilians to evacuate their homes and seek shelter in the south of Gaza, saying that anyone who stayed behind would be considered “a partner in a terrorist organization”.
False Claims of Self-defense
Israel claims that it is acting in self-defense against Hamas, which launched more than 4,000 rockets at Israel on October 7, killing more than 1,400 Israelis and taking hundreds of hostages. Israel also accuses Hamas of using civilians as human shields and hiding behind hospitals, schools and mosques.
However, human rights groups and international observers have denounced Israel’s actions as disproportionate, indiscriminate and unlawful, violating international humanitarian law and amounting to collective punishment against the civilian population. They have called on Israel to stop its aggression and to respect the rights and dignity of Palestinians.
They have also urged the international community to intervene and stop the bloodshed, calling for a humanitarian ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages, and the delivery of life-saving supplies to Gaza. They have also demanded a political solution to end the conflict and address the root causes of the violence, such as land, refugees, settlements, borders, security and human rights.
The conflict has also sparked protests and demonstrations across the world, especially in Muslim-majority countries. Thousands of people have taken to the streets to express their solidarity with Palestinians and to condemn Israel’s occupation and oppression. Some protesters have also clashed with police or faced counter-protests by pro-Israeli groups.