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Communication blackout hits Gaza as Israel deepens southern offensive

Communication services have been cut off again leaving Gaza in a ‘near total blackout’ as Israel relentlessly attacks the southern city.

Recall, that the telecommunication services were cut off in Gaza in late October as a result of Israel’s bombardment on the Strip which caused the wide-scale blackout that left most people in Gaza unreachable by phone.

However, days after they were repaired following wide condemnation.

“We regret to announce the complete cessation of the communications and internet services within the Gaza Strip as the main paths that were previously reconnected were disconnected again,” the Palestinian telecoms company Paltel said in a statement.

The cutoff means casualty figures from Israeli attacks and details of ground fighting cannot be immediately known. Communications networks in Gaza have been repeatedly severed since the war began because of Israeli bombardment.

The Palestinian communications ministry has previously appealed to neighbouring Egypt to operate communication stations near the Gaza border and activate roaming services on Egyptian networks. This has not happened.

Lamentation over situation in southern Gaza

Abdul Wahab Hamed, who fled central Gaza and headed south to shelter from Israeli bombardment, said the situation is alarming.

“The humanitarian situation here in the south is dire,” Hamed told Al Jazeera in Khan Younis.

“It’s marked with relentless bombardment causing a significant loss of life and damage. What unfolds here in Gaza is genocide. It’s an ethnic cleansing.”

Israel’s ongoing assault will allow the world to witness “the consequences of war and the unrestrained power given [to] Israel”, Hamed said.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pleaded with Israel to “avoid further action that would exacerbate the already catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza and to spare civilians from more suffering”, spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said. “The secretary-general reiterates the need for unimpeded and sustained humanitarian aid flow to meet the needs of the people throughout the [Gaza] Strip. For people ordered to evacuate, there is nowhere safe to go and very little to survive on,” he said.

In the same vein, the UN chief for humanitarian affairs, Martin Griffiths, said nowhere is safe in the besieged coastal enclave and people have been forced to “make one impossible choice after another.

“Such blatant disregard for basic humanity must stop,” he said.

Casualties surge

Casualty figures released by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza and the Government Media Office indicate that at least 15,523 Palestinians have been killed and no fewer than 254 others killed in the West Bank.

Seventy percent of the Palestinians killed in the war are women and children, ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra said, adding 41,316 people have been wounded since the start of the war with Israel.

“During the past hours, only 316 dead and 664 wounded were removed from debris and taken to hospitals, but many others are still under the rubble,” al-Qudra said.

However, the number of casualties in Israel stands at about 1,200 killed and 5,600 injured.

Hundreds of Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in Gaza at the weekend as the Israeli army ordered more areas in and around the enclave’s second-largest city of Khan Younis to evacuate, reports indicate.

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