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  • Writer's pictureManushya Foundation

International Civil society statement: Restore Telecoms and Internet Connectivity in Gaza Now!




The MENA Alliance for Digital Rights and other civil society organizations condemn, in the strongest terms, Israel's targeting of the means of communication and access to information in Gaza. We are deeply alarmed by Israel’s cutting-off of civilian telecommunication infrastructure, internet, electricity, mainstream media, journalists, and human rights defenders.


Israel is currently holding 2.3 million Palestinians captive in Gaza, amid a near-total internet and power blackout. In less than two weeks, Israeli airstrikes have killed more than 3,500 civilians, injured more than 12,000, and displaced over one million people. For the past 16 years, Israel has imposed a blockade on Gaza, depriving people of their fundamental rights. Over the past 12 days, this blockade has been weaponized to deny Palestinians access to food, water, medical aid, electricity, and the internet. Denying people humanitarian aid during a siege is a war crime.


Since the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel has maintained control of the occupied Palestinian territory’s telecommunications infrastructure, denying Palestinians their right to access safe, affordable, and quality internet, including limiting access to 2G mobile data technologies in Gaza and 3G in the West Bank. During its military offensives on Gaza in 2008, 2011, 2014, and 2021, the Israeli occupation repeatedly bombed vital internet infrastructure, causing complete internet blackouts.


During the recent escalation, Israel has targeted civil telecommunications infrastructure to limit Palestinians and international media from broadcasting its atrocities and crimes against humanity happening on the ground. Internet outages and disruptions have been documented in Gaza since the start of Israeli bombing, as reported by the Internet Outage Detection and Analysis and by the #KeepitOn coalition. Israel has dropped more than 6,000 bombs on Gaza, targeting power and internet infrastructure, using white phosphorus against civilians, and blocking the entry of vital aid such as food and medical supplies. Without electricity, the internet, or basic Information and communication technology (ICT) services, people in Gaza cannot access life-saving information about which areas are under attack or where they can find medical supplies and aid, nor can they connect with families and loved ones. They are cut off from the world.


In a war context, access to the internet is a fundamental enabler not only of personal and communal safety, but also of ensuring that human rights violations and war crimes are recorded and reported. Freedom of expression related to Palestine is currently in crisis, from tech platforms’ policies and practices censoring related content, to targeted attacks on and killings of journalists. The internet must be kept on to prevent this crisis of expression being exacerbated further. In Gaza, access to the internet, communications, and information can be the difference between life and death, just as much as vital necessities of food, fuel and water. Reporters, journalists, human rights defenders, and news agencies have been relentlessly targeted, leaving civilians to document the war via social media.


The MENA Alliance for Digital Rights and undersigned organizations strongly condemn the destruction of telecommunications infrastructure in Gaza, which prevents Palestinians from accessing life-saving information. We demand an immediate ceasefire and the immediate restoration of internet connectivity in Gaza, and we call for an end to the targeting of civilian telecommunications infrastructure.


We call on the international community to take all necessary steps to support the immediate restoration of telecommunications and other essential services in Gaza and any other affected areas, and to ensure that international and humanitarian law are respected.



Signatures


SMEX

7amleh

Access Now

INSM Foundation for Digital Rights

WITNESS

Derechos Digitales

Sawn for Digital Rights

Kandoo

Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)

Jordan Open Source Association (JOSA)

Meedan

The Tor Project

Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI)

MENA Rights Group (MRG)

ARTICLE19

IFEX

Association for Progressive Communications

JCA-NET(Japan)

Digital Rights Foundation (DRF)

Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)

Internet Sans Frontières

Lebanese Center for Human Rights

Next Billion Network

PAX Memoria

Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet)

Intervozes - Coletivo Brasil de Comunicação Social

Paradigm Initiative (PIN) Kashmir

Digital Rights Kashmir

Instituto Nupef

GreenNet

Azerbaijan Internet Watch (AIW)

Hiperderecho

Numun Fund

Bolo Bhi

Miaan Group

Office of civil freedoms

Coding Rights

​​Kijiji Yeetu

Human Rights Journalists Network Nigeria

Ubunteam

WAICT NETWORKS CABO VERDE

Digital Rights Lawyers Initiative (DRLI)

DIGICIVIC INITIATIVE (DI)

Fantsuam Foundation, Nigeria

Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio & Communication

Consortium of Ethiopian Human Rights Organizations (CEHRO)

Liberty and Peace NOW! Human Rights Reporters

Africa Open Data and Internet Research Foundation

Advocacy Initiative for Development (AID)

Myanmar Internet Project

The Association of Non-Governmental Organizations in the Gambia (TANGO)

Securing Organizations with Automated Policymaking (SOAP)

Kigali Human Rights Attorneys and Legal consultants

YODET

The Engine Room

Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD)

OXCON Consulting (United Kingdom)

Fundación Acceso, Costa Rica.

International Press Centre (IPC)

Global Digital Inclusion Partnership (GDIP)

World Pulse

Manushya Foundation (Thailand, Laos)

ASEAN Regional Coalition to #StopDigitalDictatorship

Instituto Minas Programam (Brazil)

TEDIC

Majal.org (Bahrain)

TEDIC

Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet)

ALTSEAN-Burma

Aurat March Lahore

Media Diversity Institute - Armenia

RRR Collective

Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP-Liberia)

Youth and Society (YAS)

Freedom Forum, Nepal

AfricTivistes

LaLibre.net Tecnologías Comunitarias - Ecuador

SocialTIC

Humanis Foundation Southeast Asia (affiliated with Hivos)

Computer Professionals’ Union (Philippines)

PERIN+1S

YLBHI (Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation)

Fight for the Future

The Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS)

Kurdistan without Genocide

Organization of the Justice Campaign

Kurdish organizations Network coalition for the International Criminal court (KONCICC)

May First Movement Technology

Foundation for Media Alternatives

PurpleCode Collective

CODAYati

Digital Rights Watch

Body & Data, Nepal

Human Rights Working Group (HRWG), Indonesia

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

Internet Freedom Foundation

Whose knowledge?

Zaina foundation

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