Geneva – The Israeli forces' targeting of the Internet and communications networks in the Gaza Strip as part of their continuous military attack for the ninth day is utterly worrying, Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor said today in a statement.
Israeli’s violent bombings have severely damaged or destroyed networks, equipment and devices crucial for many communication and Internet companies, which used to operate in buildings that were unjustifiably targeted.
The attacks also targeted dozens of streets damaging utility poles which carry wires that provided Internet and communication services.
This has led to the disruption of Internet and communication services for many of the population.
The use of disproportionate force against civilian objects and residents heralds unexpected consequences on the citizens of the Gaza Strip considering the deliberate infliction of severe human and material losses.
Euro-Med Monitor talked to Khaled Al-Gamal, an official in the commercial department at the Solution Management Technology Corp. (SMT) which provides fast Internet service (fiber-optic internet). Al-Gamal said the company was destroyed after Israeli warplanes targeted the Al-Jawhara Tower on May 12.
The building contained the company’s essential equipment, he said, adding that initial losses are estimated at $2 million after all the equipment and devices were irreparably damaged.
Al-Jamal stated that this has led to a complete disruption of the service provided to thousands of clients who crucially depend on our services, such as satellite channels, international and local media agencies, and some hospitals.
"Many international news agencies and satellite channels have been harmed by the targeting of the company, as they rely mainly on the fiber-optic internet service to transmit information and directly broadcast current events in the Gaza Strip," he said.
“The continued targeting of commercial buildings that contain Internet companies providing this service will greatly affect the ability of these companies to continue their work. The continuous bombing of streets and residential neighborhoods inflicted severe damage on the wires and cables connected to entire residential squares,” Al-Jamal stressed.
He continued, “The real problem lies in the tough measures the Israeli authorities imposed before allowing us to import fiber-optic wires under the pretext that they are dual-use goods. We apply for a permit and wait weeks or months for the approval to come, which will mean the continuation of service interruptions for an unknown period due to Israel’s complications”.
Euro-Med Monitor’s team interviewed several freelance journalists who work for local and international bodies. They reported the disruption of their work was due to the interruption of Internet services.
Journalist Mustafa Jihad said he used to work as a reporter for several international news websites, but he lost the ability to communicate with his employers after an Israeli aircraft destroyed the Al-Galaa Tower in the west of Gaza last Saturday.
Jihad added that he had to move to his friend’s house who still has internet. However, he expressed concern about the interruption of services at any moment as a result of Israel continuously targeting facilities that contain most of the network and communication equipment.
Internet and communications company Fusion announced in a statement viewed by Euro-Med Monitor that the bombing which targeted the Al-Jawhara Tower last Wednesday has left thousands in Gaza without internet. This is due to the severe damage the bombs caused to all the Internet equipment inside the building.
In addition, the lines of terrestrial and cellular communications are witnessing increasingly severe damage as a result of the Israeli attacks. This falls within the framework of isolating Gazans from the outside world and imposing a media blackout.
The Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip portend a humanitarian catastrophe that has begun to affect all basic aspects of life.
Israel deliberately inflicts heavy and direct material losses towards basic services, including the Internet and communication services.
The unspoken goal of these attacks is to prevent satellite channels and media outlets from reporting on these events and affect their coverage of civilian attacks taking place in the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli authorities must stop all attacks on residential communities and civilian objects that include towers and commercial companies since international humanitarian law recognized the necessity of protecting these objects and criminalized such attacks. The aggregate attacks constitute war crimes and require immediate criminal accountability.
The international community, led by the United Nations General Assembly, the Security Council and the European Union, must shoulder their legal and moral responsibilities regarding the escalation of these unjustified violations against civilians and pressure Israel to stop its military attack on Gaza.