Internet, phone services return to Gaza after Israeli communications cutoff

Paltel Group says services being gradually restored after disruption due to Israeli bombardment.

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel
Gaza has been under heavy Israeli bombardment for weeks [File: Ohad Zwigenberg/AP]

Internet and phone services are returning to Gaza following a communications blackout that humanitarian groups had warned could be used as a cover for war crimes.

Paltel Group, which provides communications services in Gaza, said on Sunday that landline, mobile and internet services were gradually being restored after being disrupted by “ongoing aggression.”

“Our technical teams are diligently addressing the damage to the internal network infrastructure under challenging conditions,” the telecom said in a statement.

“May God protect you all and our Country.”

Majed Abusalama, an opinion columnist for Al Jazeera, said he was able to reach his mother in Gaza “and hear her voice”.

“Everyone can reach their families now. No one knows for how long?” he wrote on social media.

Gaza had been under a near-total communications blackout for nearly 36 hours following Israeli air attacks on Friday that Palestinian telecoms providers said knocked out communications lines and towers.

Rights organisations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch had warned that the lack of communications in the enclave was hampering efforts to document war crimes and other abuses.

On Saturday, Elon Musk said he would offer his Starlink satellite internet service to “internationally recognised aid organisations” in Gaza, prompting protests by Israel.

“HAMAS will use it for terrorist activities,” Israel’s communication minister Shlomo Karhi said on X.

“Perhaps Musk would be willing to condition it with the release of our abducted babies, sons, daughters, elderly people. All of them! By then, my office will cut any ties with starlink.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies