US Pushed Israel to Restore Internet, Cell Service in Gaza

Blackout deepened humanitarian crisis, UN agencies say
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2023 5:05 PM CDT
US Pushed Israel to Restore Internet, Cell Service in Gaza
People walk between posters of hostages abducted by Hamas militants on Sunday in Jerusalem.   (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Less than two days after Israel shut down communications networks in Gaza, cellular and internet service was being restored Sunday. That happened after the US pressured the Israeli government, the Washington Post reports. "We made it clear they had to be turned back on," a senior US official said. "The communications are back on. They need to stay back on." Israel did not say why the networks had been turned off, which caused a near-total blackout. That meant that for 34 hours, as Israel intensified its bombardment, most of the more than 2 million Palestinians in Gaza could not communicate with the rest of the world.

With emergency phone lines out of commission, paramedics drove toward the sound of explosions. Residents couldn't find out whether relatives had been killed in the Israeli attacks, per the New York Times. Panic spread. "I felt that I had become blind and deaf, unable to see or hear," a journalist based in Gaza wrote Sunday on Facebook. Some journalists went closer to the border with Egypt in an attempt to jump onto its network. Others used foreign SIM cards and special routers that connected to Israel's network, per the AP. UN agencies and health officials in Gaza said the blackout worsened the humanitarian crisis.

Doctors Without Borders said Sunday it had not been able to reach its team in Gaza since 8pm Friday. We are not able to send our team to different facilities because we have no way to coordinate with them," Guillemette Thomas, the regional medical coordinator, said in Paris. "That's really a critical situation." A civil servant sheltering in Deir El Balah said he thought losing electricity and water would be as bad as it gets. "But losing communications turned out to be far worse," said Ahmed Yousef. (More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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