Statement on Telecommunications Blackout in Gaza
We have lost all communication with our Anera Gaza staff members. Most with connections in Gaza have lost complete contact with loved ones and colleagues, as destruction has impacted landline, cellular and internet services. As of this morning, our staff were all accounted for, but this is no longer a guarantee. Over the past 21 days, our 12-member team in Gaza has worked tirelessly to provide for their community by serving meals, delivering medicines to hospitals, and sanitizing shelters to prevent disease spread. While we were never able to properly ensure their safety during this unprecedented bombing campaign, we were always able to verify their locations and provide what little protection we could for them. That is now gone.
Equally important, essential services such as ambulance dispatches, hospital communications and rescue operations cannot communicate with one another. Even if medical and aid workers can reach those in need there is no way to confirm where they can be taken to provide life-saving care. We only expect these essential services to become even more vital as we receive reports of a potential ground incursion into the northern areas of Gaza.
This total blackout comes as Gaza’s health and water sectors have collapsed. Without fuel and due to damage from airstrikes, hospitals and healthcare clinics across Gaza have already been forced to shut down or severely reduce their services. Doctors are making horrifying decisions as to which of their emergency patients they can realistically treat. In Shifa, Gaza’s largest hospital, doctors reported days ago that the hospital is well over capacity, serving some 5,000 patients when it was originally designed to serve 700 people at a time. This number has surely risen. Medical staff are providing treatment and performing operations on the floors and in hallways, often without anesthesia or proper equipment and sanitation. The hospital is also hosting around 50,000 internally displaced persons. And now, today, we are horrified to hear increasing calls to evacuate and bomb Shifa Hospital.
Anera calls for an immediate ceasefire, as UN members have now called for, and the protection of civilians and the humanitarians who care for them, in the medical and broader aid fields. We ask you to join us in demanding an end to this decimation of life and humanity and to allow life-saving humanitarian aid into Gaza. Please, now more than ever, people in Gaza need your support.
– Sandra Rasheed
Anera Palestine Country Director
Even after this war is over, the decimation of life and infrastructure in Gaza will take many years to overcome.