Internet monitoring firms have confirmed that a complete blackout of internet access in Gaza has stretched to its seventh day, making it the longest outage during the Israel-Hamas conflict that continues to rage.
“This is the longest internet blackout ever and longer than all of the previous blackouts combined,” said Doug Madory, the director of internet analysis at Kentik in a message to TechCrunch.
On January 12, Paltel, a major telecommunications company in Palestine, declared a disruption of “all telecom services in Gaza Strip” due to ongoing aggression. The New York Times reported that the blackout was a result of damaged infrastructure in Khan Younis, a city in the southern portion of the Gaza Strip.
Early on Thursday, NetBlocks, an internet monitoring firm, tweeted (previously on Twitter) that their data showed a blackout lasting 144 hours (six days) and still ongoing, confirming the numbers collected by Kentik and Paltel’s public announcement. According to NetBlocks, this is the ninth and longest sustained outage of telecommunications since the beginning of the present conflict with Israel.
David Belson, head of data insight at Cloudflare, another internet monitoring organization, stated to TechCrunch on Thursday that there is currently an internet outage in Gaza.
When TechCrunch attempted to reach out to a telecom engineer for comment, who previously requested anonymity for their safety, the message could not be delivered.
A spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces did not respond to TechCrunch’s inquiry for comment.
Hamas, designated as a terrorist organization by both U.S. and U.K. governments, launched a surprise attack on October 7, targeting Israelis in their homes and causing the deaths of more than 1,400 people. In the following months, the Israeli military retaliated with air strikes and a ground offensive in Gaza, causing the deaths of at least 22,000 people, according to recent data reported by Palestinian authorities.
The digital rights organization Access Now, which regularly campaigns against internet shutdowns globally, released a press release stating that “documenting and sharing information about what is happening on the ground is increasingly challenging, if not outright impossible” due to the outages.
“When you try to plan for any mission during a blackout, you cannot predict the surprises or challenges that the team may face on their way – it’s hard to report back to our headquarters,” said Hisham Mhanna, a spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross.
“This is where it becomes dangerous,” added Mhanna.
Nazar Sadawi, a correspondent with Turkish Radio and Television who was working in Gaza as of the end of December, said to The Nation magazine that the internet shutdowns have forced journalists to rely on traditional methods of reporting such as walking between bombed areas, talking to survivors and witnesses for information on casualties, and listening to the radio for updates.
“The news that I used to get in three minutes, I now get in an hour or two,” said Sadawi.