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Gaza suffers near-total information blackout

Humanitarian organizations and international media and have lost contact with their colleagues amid the intensified Israeli bombardment

Internet and cell phone services stopped working in the Gaza Strip on Friday night, after Israel “expanded” its military operation against Hamas militants in the Palestinian enclave.

The largest telecommunications provider in Gaza, Paltel, has announced “a complete severance of all communications and Internet services” due to intensified Israeli strikes.

“The intense bombing in the last hour caused the destruction of all remaining international routes linking Gaza to the outside world,” the company said. 

Netblocks, a company that tracks internet connectivity globally, confirmed the information blackout, calling it “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.”

Multiple international media, including RT, have partially lost contact with their crews and stringers on the ground. The IDF has told international news organizations that Israel “cannot guarantee your employees’ safety, and strongly urge you to take all necessary measures for their safety,” according to a letter sent to Reuters and AFP.

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Israel ‘expanding’ operations in Gaza – IDF

The head of RT Arabic, Maya Manna, said there was no contact with correspondents and photographers operating in the Palestinian enclave as of Friday evening. The sole message came from an RT stringer in the area, describing a “very violent bombing.”

“I don’t know what to do with my children and my family. Everyone is afraid, everyone is terrified, and there is screaming everywhere in the Gaza Strip,” Masoud, a local reporter, told RT.

According to an NBC News crew member, who was also able to message colleagues, “all internet, electricity and everything” has been cut off. “The situation we’re in is difficult, so difficult and very dangerous. We’re being extensively shelled by artillery and by air,” the unnamed staffer said.

The UN children’s agency also lost contact with their colleagues in Gaza, with UNICEF chief Catherine Russel saying she was “extremely concerned about their safety and another night of unspeakable horror for 1 million children in Gaza.”

The international healthcare charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said there was no contact with some of their Palestinian colleagues.

“We are particularly worried for the patients, medical staff and thousands of families taking shelter at Al Shifa hospital and other health facilities,” MSF said, expressing deep concern over the situation around one Gaza’s biggest medical centers.

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Israel could be committing war crimes – UN human rights body

Israel previously accused Hamas of turning hospitals into “headquarters for their terror,” referring specifically to Al Shifa, and even published an “illustrative video” which supposedly points out the “different locations in and under the hospital which are being used to plan and implement terrorist activities.”

Meanwhile Hamas claimed that by cutting off communications from the Gaza Strip, Israel is attempting to “cover up the crimes of the occupation without any oversight or accountability,” and tries to “create an image of victory,” a senior official, Osama Hamdan, told Al Jazeera. 


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