Gaza at risk of telecoms blackout

PalTel says its mobile network has been reduced to just 10%

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By  George Bevir Published  January 6, 2009

Palestine’s fixed-line and mobile operator PalTel has warned that Gaza is at risk of being “disconnected” from the rest of the world, with 90% of its mobile service network shut down as a result of the Israeli attacks.

PalTel also reported that three of its technicians had been “lost” during the conflict.

A statement from PalTel, Gaza’s only telecoms provider, said that all but one of its “several” connections had been severed as a result of the air strikes and ground assault, and it warned that “Gaza could be disconnected from the outside world as a result of the Israeli air strikes and ground assault in Gaza”.

“The services have been extremely affected due to the cutting off of electricity and the inability of our teams to reach the sites and refill the main power generators with fuel. Currently, 90% of the mobile service network is down, in addition to a huge number of fixed lines which are out of order, either due to direct damage or because of the loss of electricity,” the statement continued.

Qatar-based news organisation Al Jazeera has reported that the main power plant in Gaza has been shut down and that fuel is in short supply due to the blockade of Gaza.

The statement added: “We have lost 3 technicians in the attacks, several technicians were injured during their efforts to repair some technical damages, numerous switchboards, mobile masts, and transmission alternatives were totally damaged and destroyed in air raids and the ground attack.”

PalTel said that it had warned international agencies that the connection could be lost at any moment, which it said would affect the humanitarian and medical emergency efforts in place and the ability to contact the emergency services and hospitals.

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