The Gaza Strip, already grappling with severe humanitarian challenges, is now on the brink of a telecommunications catastrophe. Palestinian Telecommunications Minister Ishaq Sidr announced on Sunday that a complete shutdown of communication and internet services is imminent, expected by Thursday.
The root cause of this looming crisis is the depletion of fuel supplies, essential for powering these services. This disruption is set to aggravate the existing humanitarian situation by significantly hindering Palestinians' access to vital emergency, relief, and rescue services.
During a press conference held in the occupied West Bank, Ishaq Sidr underscored the gravity of the situation. He highlighted that an interruption in telecommunications would severely impede the coordination efforts of Civil Defense and Red Crescent teams, who rely heavily on these communication channels to respond effectively to emergencies.
The potential disconnect between ground crews and their communication centers could result in the inability to direct teams to distress sites, leading to loss of lives and further jeopardizing the residents of Gaza.
A Violation of Rights and Unprecedented UN Losses
Minister Ishaq Sidr strongly condemned these developments, labeling them as a breach of international law and fundamental human rights.
The impact of the ongoing conflict in Gaza extends beyond the imminent communication blackout. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) disclosed a harrowing statistic on Monday: the death of at least 102 United Nations staff members since the onset of the war in Gaza, marking the highest number of UN aid worker casualties in a conflict in the history of the organization.
The statement revealed that within the last 24 hours, a UNRWA staff member and her family were killed in northern Gaza due to strikes, bringing the toll to over 100. Additionally, at least 27 UN staff members have been injured since the war began.
In a solemn gesture, United Nations offices globally lowered their flags to half-mast on Monday, and staff members observed a moment of silence to mourn and honor their colleagues who lost their lives in the conflict.