Gaza was plunged into a communications blackout on Sunday for the third time in 10 days, again leaving its people without access to internet or phone services as night fell and Israel’s heavy bombardment of the enclave continued.
The widespread blackout began shortly before sunset, around 4:20 p.m. local time, according to NetBlocks, an internet monitoring service.
The Palestine Red Crescent Society said on social media that the blackout affected more than two million civilians, cutting off access to emergency medical services as the bombings continued, and that, as during the previous blackouts, it had lost contact with its teams in Gaza. UNRWA, the U.N. agency that aids Palestinians, also said it was unable to reach “the vast majority” of its team in the enclave.
The director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said it was “very concerned” about the outage and reports of heavy bombardment in the enclave.
“Without connectivity, people who need immediate medical attention cannot contact hospitals and ambulances,” he said on social media. “All channels of communication must be restored immediately.”
The blackout was confirmed on Sunday by Gaza’s main telecommunications provider, Paltel, which said that the “complete interruption of all communications and Internet services” was because of a cutoff “by the Israeli side.”
The director of NetBlocks, Alp Toker, said in an interview on Sunday that his organization was unable to immediately determine whether the blackout had been caused by Israel taking technical measures or by physical damage to Gaza’s telecommunications infrastructure.
He said that the loss of connectivity in Gaza on Sunday was “technically fully consistent” with the previous two blackouts, the first of which lasted nearly 36 hours and the second of which lasted about 10 hours.
“Whatever happened in each of those is happening again,” Mr. Toker said.
After the first blackout, two American officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the United States believed that Israel was responsible for the cutoff of communications and that they had urged Israeli counterparts to do what they could to restore service.