Internet Crisis in Gaza Amid Ongoing Conflict (Update: Partially Restored)

Internet access in Gaza is deteriorating as internet service providers (ISPs) in the region face severe disruptions as a result of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. The conflict, which is now in its third week, has had a devastating impact on Gaza's already precarious internet connectivity, pushing the situation to the breaking point.

Update on 31 October: As pert Internet Outage Detection and Analysis post, "The marginal restoration of #Internet #connectivity in #Gaza is visible in IODA, both in the Gaza Strip signal view and AS12975 (PALTEL-AS)."

NetBlocks, a prominent internet monitoring firm, issued a dire warning after reporting that the Palestinian ISP NetStream had gone bankrupt owing to a severe lack of fuel supplies. The failure of NetStream had repercussions because it occurred after the ISP had notified its subscribers that the service would be terminated, exacerbating Gaza's internet problems. The situation is dire, with NetBlocks noting a significant collapse in connectivity in the Gaza Strip, affecting even Paltel, a major telecommunication company in the region.

According to Isik Mater, Director of Research at NetBlocks, this is the most significant disruption to internet connectivity in Gaza since the conflict began. Many people in the region will experience this as a complete or near-total internet blackout, further isolating the population from the outside world.

On, X/Twitter the #starlinkforgaza is continuously being trending in a lot of Muslim countries (along with #Gaza_Genocide) to get the attention of Tesla CEO so that he could offer some generosity for Palestine people just like he did in the Ukraine case.

Doug Madory, a well-known expert who has closely monitored internet connectivity worldwide and is now the Director of Internet Analysis at Kentik, emphasized that the current crisis has resulted in a significant deterioration of internet connectivity in Gaza. He compared the situation to the 2014 war when ISPs could keep connections to the outside world up and running despite some outages. However, this time, the situation is dire, with every metric of internet connectivity showing a substantial decline.

NetStream, the ISP at the center of the crisis, has yet to respond to comment requests, and their website was also unavailable as of Friday. Meanwhile, other major regional ISPs, such as Paltel and Mada Al-Arab, continue to provide some connectivity, but how much this limited access reaches end users is still being determined.

Furthermore, Cloudflare, a well-known internet security firm, reported problems with NetStream and several other major regional ISPs, including SpeedClick, AjyalFI, DCC, Fusion, NewStarMAX, JETNET, Digital Communications Palestine, and TechHub-HiNet, have been largely or entirely offline since the conflict began.

The origins of the conflict trace back to October 7, when Hamas launched a surprise attack against Israelis, leading to widespread civilian casualties. In response, the Israeli military conducted a series of airstrikes that have continued for weeks. One of the significant consequences of this ongoing conflict was the cutting off of electricity in Gaza, resulting in a drastic 90% reduction in the region's power supply.

IODA, a sophisticated system that monitors Internet infrastructure connectivity in near-real time, reported widespread outages and significant degradation in Palestine, with NetStream being a primary source of concern. According to IODA's data, approximately 15% of Gaza's networks responded to its pings.

Amanda Meng, a research scientist at Georgia Tech, has been keeping a close eye on the situation. Meng reported a continuous drop in connectivity in Gaza, with the first drop beginning on October 7, when connectivity dropped to 20%, followed by a second drop early on October 21, when connectivity dropped to 15% and below.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society, a respected humanitarian NGO in Palestine, reported a complete loss of contact with its operations room in the Gaza Strip due to Israeli authorities cutting off all landline, cellular, and internet communications. This disruption has grave consequences, as it hinders the ability of their teams to provide emergency medical services, primarily as it affects the central emergency number "101" and the arrival of ambulance vehicles to assist the wounded and injured.

AccessNow, a digital rights organization, has highlighted the severe consequences of internet outages in Palestine, particularly the difficulty in accessing information. This scarcity has a direct impact on people's ability to document atrocities on the ground and learn about the whereabouts of their families and loved ones, as well as whether they are alive or not.

Read next: Google Bard's Rocky Road: Silent Stance on Gaza-Israel Dispute Sparks Controversy
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