‘My neighbours and their children were killed’: Gazan father recalls horror of communications blackout

A Palestinian father has Link Slot Gacor recalled the horror of the communications blackout in the Gaza Strip that lasted more than 36 hours during which his neighbours and their children were killed by an airstrike.

Mahmoud Shalabi, senior programme manager in Gaza for Medical Aid for Palestinians, lives in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza, where he said the Israeli bombardment was the “most vicious” he has witnessed.

“I have no idea what type of bombs were used, but they were really devastating,” he said in an audio message heard by i.

“Those attacks were coupled with the blackout of the internet and the telecommunication in Gaza City, all of Gaza Strip, actually, so we didn’t have signals.”

Mr Shalabi said Gazans were without even the “poor 2G network connectivity” and were unable to reach loved ones or use the internet.

Israeli tanks manoeuvre inside the Gaza Strip (Photo: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

“It meant a total blackout and total darkness for the people in Gaza, so we weren’t actually aware of what was happening around us,” he recalled.

The blackout took place amid reports that Israel was due to launch a huge ground offensive into Gaza, which heightened anxiety, Mr Shalabi said.

On the second day without phone and internet, Mr Shalabi and his family, including three children, were shocked by an extremely loud explosion.

“Around 5pm I was sitting with my kids on the sofa and suddenly there was a huge explosion,” he said. “I’ve never heard this sound before. My daughter, she started screaming and hysterically crying.”

After comforting his daughter and making sure his other two children and wife were unharmed, Mr Shalabi went to look at what had happened.

“I opened the door and I honestly could not see in front of me and could not breathe,” he said. “It was grey, it was cement, it was gunpowder, it was tiny particles scattered all over.”

After soaking a mask in water he went outside and saw his neighbourhood had been destroyed.

“One simple rocket, just one rocket that hit a neighbour’s home without warning and totally destroyed that neighbour’s home and around seven adjacent homes around it,” Mr Shalabi said.

“At least 10 of my neighbours were killed, including children, and many others were injured.”

The bombardment left “everything covered in rubble”, he added.

Mr Shalabi said he could not sleep as shelling continued overnight and was awake at 4am when his phone started buzzing as network connectivity returned.

“I started receiving phone calls from my sisters who are internally displaced in Gaza now and in the south asking about how we were because we couldn’t reach each other,” he said.

“We started immediately calling our loved ones, making sure that they know we are safe and we are still standing in the north of Gaza.”

Mr Shalabi has backed calls for a ceasefire to enable essential supplies to reach civilians. His own neighbourhood’s water pipe has been hit, leaving locals without clean water.

Charity ActionAid has said the scarcity of water in Gaza is becoming life-threatening.

Riham Jafari, coordinator of advocacy and communication for ActionAid Palestine, said on Sunday: “Thankfully we are in communication again with our staff and partners following Friday’s blackout. They are telling us that the situation is catastrophic, scarcity of water is becoming life threatening, people are dehydrated and becoming sick.

“Many can’t access clean water for drinking and resort to drinking salty or unclean water.”