Immediate Action Needed: Tactics Institute Demands End to Israel’s Communication Blackouts in Gaza

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In a dire call for immediate action, Tactics Institute, strongly demands an end to the blatant communication blackouts directed by Israel in Gaza. This violation of international law poses a severe threat to regional security and peace, aggravating an already volatile situation. Legally, the Israeli acts of charging a communication blackout and damaging cyberinfrastructure in Gaza introduce several questions. 

Israel’s complete control over Palestinian cyberspace and ICT infrastructure has led to an alarming scenario of information suppression and communication deprivation. The deliberate imposition of internet shutdowns and communication blackouts in Gaza amid ongoing conflict further exacerbates the humanitarian crisis in the region. With rampant destruction of critical infrastructure and severe limitations on internet access, the Palestinian population is left virtually isolated from the world, unable to communicate or access vital information.

Communication blackouts and internet shutdowns in Gaza have been condemned by international organisations, including the World Health Organization, Electronic Frontier Foundation and Human Rights Watch. Especially in the context of Gaza, Human Rights Watch has commented that “intentional, blanket shutdowns or restrictions on access to the internet violate multiple rights and can be deadly during crises […] [and] prolonged and complete communications blackouts, like those experienced in Gaza, can provide cover for atrocities and breed impunity while further undermining humanitarian efforts and putting lives at risk.”

As of December 2023, Israel’s relentless attacks had ruined Gaza’s communication networks, leaving a mere 1% connectivity rate. This deliberate act of sabotage, coupled with blockade tactics and military aggression, has resulted in widespread devastation, with over 100,000 Palestinians killed or injured. Such actions blatantly disregard fundamental human rights and international humanitarian law.

Israel’s actions in Gaza violate international humanitarian law regarding cyber warfare. As confirmed by the international community and endorsed in reports by the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE), IHL unequivocally extends to cyberspace, regulating cyberattacks within armed conflict situations. 

Despite this, Israel’s systematic targeting of Gaza’s cyber infrastructure through communication blackouts and internet shutdowns constitutes clear cyberattacks, resulting in civilian casualties and infrastructure damage. Such actions blatantly disregard the fundamental principles of IHL, notably the principles of distinction and proportionality. The principle of distinction, enshrined in Article 48 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions and reflected in Customary Rules 7 and 54, mandates the differentiation between military and civilian objects, with operations directed solely at legitimate military targets. 

Tactics Institute strongly condemns Israel’s actions as a gross violation of international law and basic human rights. The systematic targeting of telecommunication infrastructure and imposition of blanket shutdowns not only constitute cyberattacks but also lead to disproportionate civilian harm. By disrupting connectivity and access to essential services, Israel undermines humanitarian efforts and perpetuates a cycle of suffering and impunity.

Moreover, the international community must recognize that communication blackouts and internet shutdowns serve as tools of oppression and control, infringing upon the right to freedom of expression and access to information. These actions not only hinder relief efforts but also provide cover for atrocities and human rights abuses.

Tactics Institute urges Israel to immediately cease its communication blackouts and internet shutdowns in Gaza. The continuation of such actions is unacceptable and must be met with swift international condemnation and intervention. It is imperative that the rights and safety of civilians are upheld, and all parties involved prioritize dialogue and peace-building efforts.

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