Telecom Infrastructure Targeted During Middle East Conflict

Israel’s strikes into Gaza continue apace, and news stories are pointing out that the conflict is being fought online as well — Twitter, YouTube and hacking web sites are playing a role, as ways to get information out of the country and dispense propaganda. There’s no need to drop pamphlets when you can post video of soldiers destroying a government building on YouTube or send threatening texts. The delivery mechanism is new, but propaganda isn’t.

Neither are the efforts to take out the delivery mechanism and means of communications. However, with Hamas using the same technology as citizens, the scope of such destruction is much wider. On Sunday, Palestinian mobile operator Paltel said that 90 percent of its infrastrucutre in Gaza was down, potentially cutting off communications via cell phone. Warning that the Gaza strip could be “disconnected from the outside world,” Paltel issued a statement that read:

Paltel Group has several alternatives and means that can allow connecting Gaza Strip with the outside world, however only one alternative is still functioning as all other alternatives have been totally damaged as a result of the air strikes and ground assault.

Other reports detail challenges in landline communications and Israeli news sources report that communications among Hamas leaders have pretty much been limited to walkie-talkies. This communication disruption is a scorched earth policy that goes beyond just disrupting the communications of military leaders, and it disadvantages the entire population — civilians included — by cutting them off from the benefits of the information economy. The use of civilian technology and communications by military and terrorists groups makes that infrastructure a bigger target (as was the case in Iraq), much to the detriment of everyone else on that network.

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