Gaza Blackout Cut Palestinians’ Internet and Phone Service for 34 Hours

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By Ketrin Agustine

Gaza Blackout Cut Palestinians’ Internet and Phone Service for 34 Hours

As Israeli forces entered Gaza on Friday to fight Hamas, phone and internet service was severed, sowing chaos for Palestinian civilians and leaving rescuers driving blindly toward explosions.

For 34 hours, the vast majority of the more than two million Palestinians who live in Gaza had no way to reach the outside world, or one another.

They had no way to know whether their loves ones were alive or dead. Emergency phone lines stopped ringing. Desperate paramedics tried to save people by driving toward the sound of explosions. Wounded people were left to die in the street.

On Friday at sunset, three weeks into Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza — and as Palestinians braced themselves for an impending Israeli ground invasion — the weak phone and internet service that had allowed some semblance of life to continue inside the blockaded enclave was suddenly severed. Two American officials said the United States believed Israel was responsible for the communications loss, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Panic rippled through the territory.

“I felt that I had become blind and deaf, unable to see or hear,” Fathi Sabbah, a journalist based in Gaza, wrote on his Facebook profile on Sunday, after phone and internet service partly returned.

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