Israel cut Gazans off from each other and the world as it executed ground incursions and its largest aerial assault yet.
People reportedly lost all access to internet and communication services across the Gaza Strip on Friday night as Israel announced an expansion of its ground attack and launched what observers described as the largest aerial assault since its latest bombing campaign began nearly three weeks ago.
Al Jazeera reported that it has only “sporadic communication” with its correspondents on the ground in the besieged Gaza Strip. The outlet has been able to go live intermittently via satellite phones.
Reporting from Khan Younis, a city in southern Gaza, Al Jazeera’s Tareq Abu Azzoum said that “we don’t know anything that is happening in other districts in the territory.”
“We are now in a hospital and we are going to be live by satellite as much as we can and every single hour,” he continued. “So please, if you can hear us, send that message to the world that we are isolated now in Gaza. We don’t have any phone signals. We don’t have any internet connections.”
The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said it has “completely lost contact with the operations room in Gaza Strip and all our teams operating there due to the Israeli authorities cutting off all landline, cellular, and internet communications.”
“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,” the group said. “We are also worried about the safety of our teams working in Gaza Strip as the continuous and intense Israeli airstrikes around the clock indicate that the Israeli authorities will continue to commit war crimes while isolating Gaza from the outside world.”
Like Al Jazeera and other outlets, The Associated Press reported trouble contacting people in the Gaza Strip.
“The Associated Press‘ attempts to reach people in Gaza did not go through,” the outlet said Friday.
Friday’s onslaught came at the tail end of a particularly deadly week in Gaza, where Israeli airstrikes have killed more than 7,000 people in just three weeks. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Daniel Hagari announced Friday that in addition to ramping up its airstrikes, the Israeli military is “expanding ground operations” in Gaza ahead of an expected full-scale invasion.
Israel has also largely kept up its illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip, depriving the territory of critical necessities — including fuel and electricity — and intensifying the enclave’s humanitarian crisis.
Israel’s airstrikes have severely damaged Gaza’s internet and telecommunications infrastructure, hampering people’s ability to communicate with their families and undermining journalists’ efforts to inform the world about events on the ground.
On Friday, the Palestinian telecommunications company Paltel announced “a complete disruption of all communication and internet services” due to the Israeli bombardment.
“The intense bombing in the last hour caused the destruction of all remaining international routes linking Gaza to the outside world,” the company said.
The London-based watchdog group NetBlocks wrote on social media that “live network data show a collapse in connectivity in the Gaza Strip with high impact to Paltel.”
Amid the intense bombing and communications blackout on Friday, Medical Aid for Palestinians director of advocacy Rohan Talbot relayed a message that a colleague delivered just days earlier.
“I’m afraid that there will be massacres and those massacres will be done in total darkness,” the unnamed colleague said, according to Talbot.
Palestinian-American political analyst Yousef Munayyer issued a similar warning on Friday.
“The Israeli military is carrying out its biggest strikes since the start of its war on Gaza right now, all the lights and communications are knocked out,” he wrote on social media. “We are likely to soon find out about the biggest massacres we’ve seen yet.”
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