Thursday , December 7 2023

Gaza faces communications blackout due to lack of fuel


GAZA CITY: Mobile phone and internet services have gone down across the Gaza Strip due to a lack of fuel for back-up generators, Palestinian telecoms companies say.

Telecom firms Paltel and Jawwal said all energy sources sustaining their networks were depleted, and an internet monitor confirmed a major outage.

Israel has blocked all but one delivery of fuel to Gaza since the start of its war with Hamas five weeks ago.

The UN said a blackout could jeopardize civil order and undermine aid efforts.

“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,” Paltel said in a statement on Thursday afternoon.

At the same time, internet observatory NetBlocks said live metrics showed Gaza was “in the midst of a major internet outage”, with telecom services likely to be unavailable to most residents.

Israel launched a major military campaign in the Gaza Strip to destroy Hamas, which it considers a terrorist group, in retaliation for the 7 October cross-border attack by hundreds of gunmen. At least 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s assault on Israel and about 240 others were taken hostage.

Since Israel started its counterattack, Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry has said 11,400 people have been killed in the territory and the United Nations has warned of a “humanitarian disaster”.

The Israeli government has defended blocking fuel deliveries during its campaign, saying it is concerned that Hamas could steal fuel and use it for military purposes.

One tanker carrying 23,000 litres of diesel crossed from Egypt on Wednesday, but Israel restricted its use only for the refueling of UN aid Lorries.

Other key services have already had to shut down because of similar issues. This includes hospitals, water pumps, desalination plants, sewage treatment facilities and bakeries.

A senior journalist Rushdi Abu Alouf, who is in the southern city of Khan Younis, confirmed that all communications were down across Gaza on Thursday night.

He said it would now be extremely difficult to get any information about what was happening on the ground elsewhere, particularly in places like Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, where Israeli forces were carrying out an operation for a second consecutive day.

Before the start of the blackout, a journalist trapped inside the complex had told him by phone that troops were storming all of the hospital’s departments and “shooting in all directions”. Our correspondent has been unable to re-establish contact since then.

The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Unrwa which runs the largest humanitarian operation in Gaza said he feared the blackout could cause a further breakdown of civil order. (Int’l News Desk)

Check Also

Cyclone Michaung hits India’s south after dozens killed

07-12-2023 Bureau Report + Agencies NEW DELHI/ BHUBANESWAR: Cyclone Michaung barrelled into the southern Indian …