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Fighting Again Disrupts Telecom Service Across Gaza


Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Jan. 12, 2024.
Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Jan. 12, 2024.

Gaza Strip telecom provider Paltel reported Friday that fighting in the enclave had caused all communications services to be cut across the territory.

From its official X social media account, formerly Twitter, Paltel said, "Dear people in our beloved homeland, we regret to announce a complete interruption of all services [cellular, landline and internet] with the Gaza Strip, due to the ongoing aggression."

Meanwhile, the United Nations expressed concern about new evacuation orders issued Thursday in southern Gaza by the Israeli military. The office of humanitarian affairs said the residents in a 4.6 square-kilometer area in Al Mawasi and several blocks near Salah Ad Deen Road had been told to move to Deir al Balah, where the Israel Defense Forces continue to conduct airstrikes.

“More than 18,000 people and nine shelters, accommodating an unknown number of internally displaced people, are expected to be affected by this latest round of orders,” U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters Friday.

A journalist for Agence France-Presse reported that strikes and artillery shelling had hit areas between the southern cities of Khan Younis and Rafah, which is crowded with people who fled from the north.

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry reported Friday that about 151 Palestinians had been killed and 248 more wounded in Israeli airstrikes in the past 24 hours. In a statement, the ministry said at least 23,708 people — two-thirds of them women and children — have been killed since the conflict started.

Forced displacement concerns

The October 7 Hamas terror attack inside southern Israel triggered the war. Fighters killed 1,200 people and kidnapped about 240 others. Since then, Israel has told Palestinians in northern Gaza to move south as it launched a ground invasion to decapitate Hamas, which is an EU- and U.S.-designated terror group.

The United Nations has said 1.9 million people — nearly 85% of Gaza’s population — are now crammed into an ever-shrinking area in the central and southern Gaza Strip and living in horrific conditions. Food, clean water, medical supplies, even toilets are in short supply. Malnutrition is rising, and humanitarians cannot get adequate aid supplies into Gaza.

“Providing humanitarian assistance across Gaza is almost impossible,” U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths told a Security Council meeting Friday.

He and other U.N. officials are also concerned about statements from some Israeli political figures urging the mass transfer of Palestinians from Gaza to third countries.

“These statements raise grave concerns about the possible forcible mass transfer or deportation of the Palestinian population from the Gaza Strip, something that would be strictly prohibited, of course, under international law,” Griffiths said.

The head of the U.N. Human Rights New York office told the meeting that Israel’s evacuation orders failed “to meet the necessary conditions for lawfulness, therefore potentially amount to forcible transfer — a war crime.”

Ilze Brands Kehris said Palestinians must have an “ironclad guarantee” that they will be able to return home. She underscored that Israel, as the occupying power, must support their return by restoring essential services and facilitating the necessary reconstruction of Gaza.

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N. was also clear that civilians must not be forced to leave Gaza “under any circumstances.” Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Washington rejects statements by Israeli ministers and lawmakers calling for their resettlement outside Gaza.

“These statements, along with statements by Israeli officials calling for the mistreatment of Palestinian detainees or the destruction of Gaza, are irresponsible, inflammatory and only make it harder to secure a lasting peace,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

VOA Correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this report from the United Nations. Some information came from Agence France-Presse.

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