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Egypt, extend telecom networks to Gaza now!

The Egyptian government must act immediately to extend telecommunications access in Gaza through Egypt’s mobile networks and ISPs.

Israel has been deliberately bombing Gaza’s telecommunications infrastructure and shutting down the internet to commit its massacres in the dark. So far, three complete internet and telecommunications blackouts—on October 27, November 1, and November 5—took place amidst reports of escalating frequency and intensity of bombing. Cut off from the internet and mobile services, people are unable to call emergency medics and rescuers, contact family and loved ones, and document Israel’s crimes. The telecom blackout isolates the people of Gaza from one another and makes it difficult for them to share and receive warning alerts and shelter advice, or to contact humanitarian aid. Ambulances are driving towards falling bombs. People have no idea where to seek shelter under constant shelling. Family and friends abroad wait days before their messages reach Gaza, and in many cases, they never do.

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Cutting off telecommunications during an indiscriminate military operation, in which Israel has turned Gaza into a “graveyard for children,” means the occupation is adamant on inflicting the maximum damage possible. Being denied the chance to even call for help and find shelter is another form of terrorizing civilians and violating human rights.

Israel has been able to “switch off the internet” in Gaza because Palestinian telecom and internet operations in Gaza are linked to the central telecom network infrastructure in occupied cities and are thus under full Israeli control.

We call on Egyptian authorities to immediately allow telecom operators to expand coverage into the Gaza Strip. Many Egyptian operators have already announced that they are capable and equipped, technically and logistically, through the existing tower infrastructure on the Egyptian side. These efforts, however, have slowed down because the Egyptian government has yet to respond to the operators’ request to Egypt’s National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) to coordinate and obtain necessary approvals.

In addition to expanding Egypt’s network coverage in Gaza, we call on the Egyptian operator to exempt all Palestinian mobile phone lines from subscription and recharge fees until telecommunication services are fully restored in Gaza.

We, the undersigned, urge the Egyptian government to act and provide telecommunication services, potentially saving thousands of lives in Gaza.

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