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Keeping Gaza online: What happens when lines of communication are cut off during war?

In the midst of the ongoing Israeli bombardment of Gaza, the region faces not only physical devastation but also a severe communication blackout, leaving Palestinians, journalists and rescue agencies in a dire situation. The deliberate targeting of phone lines, internet connections and media offices by Israeli forces has created unprecedented challenges not only for those in Gaza, but also for those abroad trying to reach their family in the enclave.

February 9, 2024 at 3:58 pm

Since 7 October, Gaza has been subjected to heavy Israeli bombardment, resulting in the destruction of infrastructure, damaged phone lines and severed internet connections. This has left rescue agencies struggling to coordinate operations or to find out where the latest victims have fallen and leaving individuals unable to reach out to family members or seek assistance.

Journalists and media workers have faced exceptional challenges, with more than 50 media premises or offices destroyed, and over 120 journalists and media workers killed in the besieged Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank. The relentless bombing of buildings housing press offices has forced journalists to work in the field, outside hospitals, risking their lives to report the unfolding horror in the enclave.

Not only has Israel targeted media offices, but it has also bombed telecommunication networks, intensifying its bombing campaigns during periods of blackouts. These blackouts have been described by Palestinians as ‘nights of horror,’ and have prompted innovative solutions, such as turning to global eSIMs for internet connectivity. However, even this workaround presents challenges, requiring individuals to find elevated locations or open border areas to maintain a connection.

To counter the communication blackout, the global campaign #ConnectingGaza emerged, aiming to provide Palestinians with eSIMs to stay online. People worldwide have purchased and donated these eSIMs, enabling journalists and others to circumvent the communication challenges imposed on them.

With electricity cut off to the entire Gaza Strip since the beginning of Israel’s war on the enclave, individuals have resorted to solar panels to power essential devices, such as mobile phones and household batteries. Initiatives like #ConnectingGaza play a pivotal role in maintaining a lifeline of communication in a war-torn region, where access to information is crucial for hope and resilience.

Trapped in Gaza with no means of escaping Israel’s bombing campaigns, Palestinians, including children, have turned to their phones to document and share information. This grassroots effort has made it more challenging for Israel to control the narrative, as the world witnesses the human impact of the conflict through firsthand accounts and images shared from within the enclave.

In the face of relentless destruction and communication challenges, the people of Gaza, journalists and global initiatives strive to keep the lines of communication open. As the conflict continues, these efforts become essential in providing hope, resilience and a crucial connection to the outside world.

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The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.