Reaching people in the Gaza Strip or knowing what was happening in the enclave became increasingly challenging late Friday as Israel announced it was escalating its bombardment and carrying out another incursion.
On Friday evening, two major Palestinian mobile networks, Jawwal and Paltel, announced that their cellphone and internet services were down. Some Palestinians who managed to communicate with the outside world reported that fear and panic were spreading.
Belal Khaled, a Palestinian freelance photographer, who was reached via WhatsApp, described the atmosphere among residents at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, stating, “People are scared and feel like they are in a state of uncertainty. They are unaware of the events happening around them.”
Visuals from inside Gaza on social media channels monitored by The New York Times and some wire services were very limited on Friday afternoon. Reuters had a live camera directed from the Israeli side of the border toward the Gaza skyline, which depicted darkness with sporadic bursts of light. There were few images available of the events occurring on the ground.
“The current situation is disastrous,” Tareq Abu Azzoum, an Al Jazeera reporter, stated on television, while adding that he was reporting via satellite. “We can no longer establish contact with the international community to convey our message to the world and understand what is happening on the ground.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists, a monitoring group, expressed concern over reports of a communication blackout.
“As news bureaus lose communication with their crews and reporters in Gaza, who independently testify and provide information about developments and the human toll of this war, the world is deprived of a glimpse into the reality of all sides involved in this conflict,” it stated in a declaration.
The Palestinian Red Crescent stated in a social media post that it had lost contact with its headquarters and teams in Gaza, expressing deep concern about its ability to continue providing emergency medical services and the residents’ ability to call for ambulances.
The director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, also mentioned in a social media post that the agency had lost contact with its staff, health facilities, and health workers.
“This siege deeply concerns me regarding their safety and the immediate health risks faced by vulnerable patients,” he said.
Reporting contributed by Sarah Kerr.
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