Washington to Israel: Turn the lights back on in Gaza

Watson said Israeli officials justified the blackout by telling the White House there could be “operational reasons for temporary outages” but that those should remain “rare and short in duration.”

It’s the longest blackout the Palestinians have faced since Internet and cybersecurity monitoring firm Netblocks began keeping track in 2018, according to founder Alp Toker. But it’s far from the first incident, which has occurred at a frequent clip following Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and the subsequent Israeli bombardment of Gaza. Even before the war,
Israel held control over
the information and communications technology sector for the Palestinian territories.

“It indicates a growing difficulty in maintaining telecoms infrastructure in an active war zone,” Toker said. “Especially where repair crews have lost their lives in the field.”

Services for Paltel, the Palestinian telecom group, have shut down nine times as a result of Israeli strikes and a lack of fuel supplies, which makes it impossible to run generators that keep on power.
The company flagged
the latest downed network on January 12, later sharing that two of its engineers were killed
by a “direct missile”
a day later while driving a company car to repair the systems.

The blackout coincides with a particularly intense Israeli military campaign, including the
return of tanks
to northern Gaza following a brief hiatus and
additional campaigns
in the south.

The Israeli Defense Forces, in a statement, stressed that it is working on the restoration of infrastructure in affected areas and coordinating with local teams to repair the infrastructure where needed.

“It is important to remember that the Gaza Strip is an active war zone,” the statement reads, “and thus can experience temporary disruptions to internet connectivity due to the ongoing conflicts.”

Alex Ward contributed to this report.