Wed, 29 Nov 2023

Another Communications Blackout Grips Gaza Strip

Voice of America
17 Nov 2023, 05:36 GMT+10

The Gaza Strip was gripped by yet another communications blackout Thursday as internet and telephone services collapsed due to a lack of fuel, the two main telecommunications companies in the territory said in a statement.

"We regret to announce that all telecom services in Gaza Strip have gone out of service as all energy sources sustaining the network have been depleted, and fuel was not allowed in," Palestinian telecommunications companies Jawwal and Paltel announced in statements posted to X on Thursday.

Human rights groups warned earlier this week about the threat of another impending communications blackout in Gaza.

"Intentional, blanket shutdowns or restrictions on access to the internet violate multiple rights and can be deadly during crises," Deborah Brown, senior technology researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a Wednesday statement.

"Prolonged and complete communications blackouts, like those experienced in Gaza, can provide cover for atrocities and breed impunity while further undermining humanitarian efforts and putting lives at risk," Brown added.

This latest communications blackout comes shortly after Israel urged Palestinians to leave four towns in southern Gaza on Thursday, signaling Israel's offensive may turn to areas where Israel had previously said Palestinians would be safe.

Smoke billows following an Israeli strike on Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza strip on Nov. 16, 2023 Smoke billows following an Israeli strike on Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza strip on Nov. 16, 2023

Israel Tells Palestinians to Leave 4 Southern Gaza Towns

Most of Gaza's population of 2.3 million people has crowded into southern Gaza. That includes hundreds of thousands of people who followed Israel's orders to evacuate the north to avoid Israel's ground offensive and strikes.

The ongoing war between Israel and the militant group Hamas has entered its sixth week. The latest iteration of the decades-long conflict was sparked on October 7, when Hamas militants invaded southern Israel, killing over 1,200 people and abducting over 200 people. Human rights groups have condemned the attack as a crime against humanity.

Israel has responded with a non-stop bombardment of the Gaza Strip. More than 11,100 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since October 7, according to the Hamas- controlled Gaza Health Ministry. Human rights groups have accused Israel of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza.

Amnesty International has urged Israel to allow additional fuel deliveries to enter Gaza.

"The immediate entry of adequate levels of fuel is essential to enable the delivery of life-saving services by the healthcare system. Allowing the entry of fuel and restoring power is an urgent humanitarian imperative, which must not be further delayed under any circumstances," Rasha Abdul Rahim, Amnesty Tech's program director, said in a Wednesday statement.

Some information in this report came from Reuters and the Associated Press.

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