Communications employees in Gaza risk their lives running online messages

Telco employees are taking risks Gaza In light of Israel’s ongoing bombing, they are sacrificing their lives to keep the network running and keep the sector connected to the internet.

Humanitarian workers say operating communications networks in Gaza is necessary for rescue and civil defense services to reach the injured and for journalists to document the reality on the ground to the outside world.

Ahmed was one of those employees. The network operations center of the Palestinian Telecommunications Company (Paltel) contacted him at around 10 p.m. to verify the operation of the network after the power outage in Gaza.

Without hesitation, Ahmed marched through the city amid intense Israeli airstrikes, stopping a passing ambulance in the hope that it would provide him with some measure of safety from Israeli attacks.

“I told the driver that if I couldn’t fix the generator, people like him wouldn’t be able to treat injured civilians,” Ahmed said.

He added, “We are no better than healthcare workers or more important than them because a single phone call can save a life.”

Once at the center, Ahmed went to work, and by 2 a.m. he had repaired the generators and kept the communications network working, then crawled through the collapsed debris back home.

Ahmed’s story has become almost routine for Patel’s 750 employees in Gaza. At least five Paltel employees were martyred in Gaza, while many others lost family members, including their wives and children.

prepare for war

Israel cut electricity to the Gaza Strip on the first day of its assault while bombing continued, but communications networks remained operational for about six weeks.

Paltel CEO Abdel Majeed Melhem said this was because the company had been preparing for war for more than 15 years, incorporating emergencies into its infrastructure in Gaza every step of the way.

He added that Gaza’s Paltel network was built during Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, and each piece of equipment needs to be approved by Israeli authorities before entering Gaza, making repairs difficult.

Israel’s multiple wars in Gaza have destroyed civilian infrastructure, and in response to ongoing conflicts like the current one, Israel has built a unique communications network.

While most telecom networks bury cables 60 centimeters underground, Paltel buries cables up to 8 meters deep, and its data center in Gaza has Level 3 operational security if Israelis lose power: generators and panels, solar and Battery.

The company also has emergency protocols in place to guide remote workers… bank of the westIf communications are disrupted, Gaza staff will be empowered to act independently.

unavoidable danger

Despite all the equipment and preparations, the massive bombings of the past few weeks have continued to cripple networks, with around 70% of mobile phone networks cut off and solar panels rendered useless or full as they were destroyed in the attacks. Dust and debris, and the nature of the conflict, the relentless threat weighs heavily on employees who are pursued by danger from home to the field.

On October 15 last year, Rabi, a fiber optic technician, was called to repair a cable a few meters from the border. Before going, he had to provide the Israelis with a complete list, including the names of the repair teams, their colors, etc. The car and its license plate number.

The drone of drones, bombings and the sound of excavators mingled above the cable as Rabe and his team spent two hours repairing it.

“Any wrong move could mean we would be targeted,” Rabbi said. “I couldn’t explain to my wife and children why I did this, or why I voluntarily went out during the war. My company didn’t force me , but if there’s one person who can do that, it’s me.”

Israel is the first controller

Employees in the West Bank stared breathlessly at colleagues in distant Gaza, hesitant to ask them to inspect damaged equipment, knowing that a simple repair trip could cost them their lives. Employees in Gaza are not obligated to be on site, but despite the risks, most of them are eager to volunteer.

No matter how deep the dig is and how many solar panels are installed, communication between Gaza and the outside world will ultimately depend on the Israelis. The cables connecting Gaza with the outside world must pass through Israel, and Israel has deliberately cut off international communications with the outside world at least twice. strip.

On Thursday, Patel announced a total communications blackout, the first of its kind in the current war, as its fuel stocks were depleted.

“Ambulances, emergency services, civil defense and humanitarian organizations cannot work without communications,” Melham said.

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