Late Tuesday night, residents throughout Gaza lost internet, cell phone and landline phone service, creating a communication blackout similar to one which occurred just before a massive Israeli invasion in 2008. The blackout sparked fear among Gaza residents that an Israeli invasion might be underway.
Just before the communication blackout began, residents of northern Gaza witnessed Israeli armored bulldozers mobilizing along the northern border between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
The main Palestinian cellphone company, Jawwal, told reporters with Ma’an News Agency that they were aware of problems with service, but did not know what was causing it.
During the 2008-9 invasion of Gaza, Israeli forces bombed the main power plants, plunging Gaza into a sea of darkness. Due to the ongoing Israeli siege, the electricity infrastructure of the Gaza Strip has been unable to fully recover, and fuel shortages have prevented the power plants from operating at full capacity. Since the 2008 invasion, Gazans have been on rolling electricity blackouts most of the time – in most parts of Gaza, people receive just six hours of electricity a day.
The Israeli military did not issue any statement or comment on the communication cut-off.
According to local sources, telephone landlines run by Paltel, the Palestinian Telecommunications Agency, were cut off, along with cell phone service by all of the major cell companies.
The source of the blackout is still unknown.
(www.imemc.org / 10.08.2011)