Gaza- Abu Jihad Al-Sultan dusted off an old radio that he had owned for 30 years, repaired a defect that had occurred from years of abandonment and neglect without use, and followed the radio stations in order to investigate news here or there, after Israel plunged the Strip into complete isolation since last Friday evening.
At approximately seven o’clock that evening, the Gaza Strip was faced with an unprecedented situation, in which more than two million Palestinians found themselves isolated from the outside world, following Israel’s cutting off of cellular and landline communications services, and Internet services.
Abu Jihad tells Al Jazeera Net, “We felt as if we had suddenly entered a time machine that took us back decades. The atmosphere during the hours of isolation was even more terrifying, especially with the intense overflights of Israeli warplanes, the raids and the sounds of explosions echoing everywhere.”
Back to the radio
Abu Jihad (55 years old) found himself forced to search for a radio among a pile of old tools and devices in his home’s storeroom. He says, “I never expected that this radio would be the only way to know what is going on, not only in the distant world, but even Current events around me.
Radios no longer have a place in the homes of the majority of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, except for a limited group of elderly people, who are tied to them by habit and do not like the technology of applications on mobile phones.
Abu Jihad endured the hardships of standing for a long time, placing the radio on a window whose glass was shattered as a result of an Israeli air strike, on one of the nights of the escalating war on Gaza, for the fourth week in a row.
He began to move a pointer with a metal disc, searching for a radio station with clear sound. This is not an easy task in light of the severe interference resulting from the intense overflights of military aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles, which are popularly called “the buzzard” in Gaza. Because of the annoying noises it makes around the clock.
Abu Jihad describes about 33 hours of isolation as “the most frightening and frightening” since the outbreak of the Israeli war on the 7th of this month. He says, “The blackout in communications and the Internet tightened the noose around our necks, and the night hours were terrifying and intimidating. We lost sleep and was replaced by intense anxiety.”
Egyptian and Israeli slices
But Firas Adwan, a young man in his twenties, could not bear the interruption of communications and the Internet, so he resorted to a communications SIM card from an Egyptian company, whose services are only available, and with poor quality, in some areas of the city of Rafah, adjacent to the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.
Firas told Al Jazeera Net that he and others resorted to buying Egyptian telecom cards, which quickly ran out of markets, in order to stay in touch with the world and learn about developments in the Israeli aggression.
While Firas resorted to an Egyptian telecommunications SIM card, after the services of the two telecommunications companies “Jawwal” and “Ooredoo” operating in the Palestinian territories were disrupted, a few Gazans found what they were looking for in telecommunications SIM cards from Israeli companies, whose activation requires presence in areas close to the security fence in the eastern Gaza Strip, and this is not possible. To reach these dangerous areas, their choice was to climb onto the roofs of high houses.
Issam, a journalist working for a foreign news agency, who preferred not to reveal his full name, said that he made one call from an Israeli communications SIM card registered in the agency’s name, and was surprised that it was immediately disabled and went out of service.
During the hours of isolation, the radio also had value for Firas and Issam, who are from the younger generation, as it was a main source of information. Issam says, “A local radio broadcasting Al Jazeera satellite news bulletins connected him throughout the hours of isolation with the events and developments of the war taking place in the Gaza Strip.”
Rushing towards the sound and smoke
The cutting off of communications and the Internet increased the complications and obstacles in the way of the work of medical teams and ambulances, which were no longer able to determine the locations of Israeli air strikes and the targeted areas.
During the hours of isolation, the ambulances relied on moving according to the source of the sound, or towards the plumes of smoke emanating from the air raids, and in the hours of the night they were not able to move until after the victims of the raids arrived in primitive ways on buggies (carts), or small cars running on 3 wheels. Wheels are popularly called “taktuk”.
Jamal Adwan, correspondent for the local Al-Aqsa Network in the city of Rafah, told Al Jazeera Net that ambulances were distributed during the hours of communications and Internet outage in several main axes in the city, in order to quickly respond and head towards the homes and targeted places.
Since the outbreak of the war, journalists residing in the only Abu Youssef al-Najjar Hospital in the city of Rafah, including Jamal Adwan, have found themselves unable to follow developments and communicate with their employers, which is the case for the majority of journalists in the Gaza Strip, including large numbers who have taken refuge in hospitals.
On the side of the road
Owners of homes and local institutions that operate on electricity generated by solar cells volunteered to extend electricity connections in the streets, making them available free of charge to those who need to charge radios and mobile phones, and small batteries used for simple home lighting to overcome the pitch black darkness.
With the outbreak of war on Gaza, Israel imposed a strict blockade, prevented the entry of many materials, and banned the supply of fuel necessary to operate the only power plant in the Strip, in addition to cutting the line transmitting electricity coming from Israel.
Despite the dangers of gatherings in the streets and at crossroads, especially with previous attacks that resulted in martyrs and wounded, the state of isolation forced many young people in refugee camps to gather in front of the doors of their homes, and between the alleys of the camps, and exchange news about developments in the field in light of the interruption of communications and the Internet. .