Under Communications Blackout, Gaza Cut off From World as Conflict Escalates Dramatically

October 28, 2023

Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, Chief Executive Officer of Mercy Corps 

“The last 24 hours of intense and escalating bombardments in Gaza will drastically increase the already horrific civilian death toll from this conflict. We have now lost touch with all of our nearly 70 team members in Gaza amid a communications blackout. We have no way of verifying their safety or assessing the rapidly deteriorating situation. We fear for our team and for the two million civilians who are trapped in Gaza with nowhere safe to go and completely cut off from the outside world. What little food, water, fuel, medicine and other life-sustaining necessities remain are depleting rapidly.” 

“There is no internet. There is no mobile service. From limited information emerging from Gaza, the blackout means that people can’t call for ambulances, and the limited but critical humanitarian assistance that was still operating will be severely hampered.”

“We urge a ceasefire now to end the devastating loss of life and protect civilians. We urge an immediate end to the siege and the urgent restoration of telecommunications, electricity and water services. Medicine, fuel, food and water, as well as aid workers must be able to safely reach those who need it, and at a scale that meets the massive and exponentially growing need.” 

“Until a ceasefire is reached, all parties must adhere to International Humanitarian Law and protect civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza and Israel. Civilians must not be targeted, held against their will, forcibly removed or used as bargaining chips. All measures must be taken to protect civilians from harm, including those who are unable or unwilling to move. 

“International Humanitarian Law also requires that civilians are able to access lifesaving humanitarian assistance. The initial convoys of trucks bringing food, medicine and water into Gaza from Egypt through the Rafah crossing over the last week are entirely inadequate to meet the alarming levels of need, which will rise dramatically in the coming days with this newest escalation.”

“A Mercy Corps team member shared with me this week, “know that we are dying here, if we are not dead physically, we are dead on the inside.” We fear the further escalation of violence will result in untold tragedy that will be a stain on the global conscience.”