Gaza blackout 'risks providing cover for mass atrocities': HRW

Gaza blackout 'risks providing cover for mass atrocities': HRW
Human Rights Watch expresses concern over communication blackout that may provide cover for mass atrocities in Gaza
2 min read
NGO Human Rights Watch calls out communications blackout as a risk to further human rights violations against Gaza [Getty]

The near-total telecommunications blackout in Gaza amid Israel's ongoing bombardment of the Palestinian territory risks providing cover for mass atrocities, the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Friday.

Internet access and the phone network were completely cut across the Gaza Strip on Friday, nearly three weeks after Israel began bombarding the enclave following an attack by Hamas where at least 1,400 people, according to Israeli officials.

The health ministry in the besieged Gaza Strip says at least 7,326 people have been killed in Israel's retaliatory strikes since the October 7 attack, mainly civilians and many of them children.


"Widespread phone and internet outages occurred in Gaza on October 27, 2023, amid a concerted Israeli bombardment, almost entirely cutting off the 2.2 million residents from the outside world," HRW said in a statement.

"This information blackout risks providing cover for mass atrocities and contributing to impunity for human rights violations," Deborah Brown, the group's senior technology and human rights researcher, said in the statement.

A number of international agencies and NGOs said they had lost touch with their staff in Gaza on Friday, including the UN's humanitarian agency OCHA.

Its humanitarian coordinator Lynn Hastings said in a statement that UN hospitals and humanitarian operations "can't continue without communications," alongside energy, food, water and medications.

The NGO Amnesty International said it had also lost contact with colleagues in Gaza.

"This communications blackout means that it will be even more difficult to obtain critical information and evidence about human rights violations and war crimes being committed against Palestinian civilians in Gaza," it added.