For people cut off from the rest of the world from the sea, air, and land, mobile services and internet are virtually the only proxies to communicate with the virtually “outside” world. Yesterday around seven pm, I noticed that the internet was logged on, but there was no connection. The router at my house has its moments where it stops working, so I thought to myself “the thing is having issues again”. I tried to outsmart the little device, so I rebooted it. The problem was not solved. Along with the internet outage, my brother was telling me that signals in his cellphone were down, and indeed I looked at my cellphone it was, too, out of service. Israeli bulldozers cut off Gaza from communicating with the world for almost 16 hours.
At that stage, I didn’t know that Israel was behind the blackout. I thought it was just the usual technical failure. My brother jokingly said: “they’re coming”, meaning Israel is preparing for invading Gaza. Of course, I laughed on his comment thinking I’ve a lot of dishes and pans to wash! After one hour of the blackout, still it did not seem serious. However, after the outage extended to almost 2 hours the cyber dose in my blood started going alarmed. No twitter, no Facebook, no e-mail, no G-talk, no Skype, no Google+ NOT even a cellphone network to get access to those sites. The irksome and unsettling feeling of isolation started creeping to my de-internet body.It is hard to see yourself going backward to the mid-ages, the television-ages. Ironically, the television’s signals were also down. Even watching tv was not available at that moment. And for almost 15 minutes the electricity went off. The circle was full…!
However, when the world is out of reach, something much more valuable, but often neglected is felt again. Without the noise of television and without clicking and typing, a warm laugh-full conversation made me feel how these fast-paced communications are taking away these small moments of family bonding. The internet-outage paranoia was soon alleviated. My only concern was how to tell my fiancé, who lives outside Gaza, that I am fine. It’s just an unknown and sudden internet, mobile, landline, and electricity blackout. And you don’t have to worry.
After a merry time with my family, I went to sleep. I did wake up several times to check whether we were plugged to the world or still living in cyber darkness. After twelve hours, I checked t.v searching for any news about the cut off. The PA owned television, the Palestine channel, referred to the blackout in the news banner.
Around 8 am, I went to work where the first question before “Good morning “was “do you have internet at home??” The answer was No…
However, in a fraction of a second, I saw what electrically shock my sleepy self, and swiftly opened my semi-closed eyes, MOZILAFIRE FOX IS WORKING! IT’S BACK! The internet is back! My heart was tweeting!!
And while I was giving the class, I looked at my once-was signally dead cellphone and then I jubilantly told the students: “It’s back!” the beautiful small dashes signaling that the mobile network is operating again. After 16 hours of disconnection, life is connected again! As I left work, people in streets were checking their cellphones making sure that the network is back. Many were wondering about the causes. Gaza has not experienced a major blackout where mobile networks and internet connection were down since the Israeli assault on Gaza (2008-2009)
The internet is increasingly used by Palestinians to counter the Israeli narrative and also to break, at least, the mental siege. Was Israel testing the cyber world’s response in case of a future major communication blackout? Isn’t enough for Israel to block the sea, the land, and air it blocked the internet and cellphone services, too?
As one friend wrote on Facebook :
The NO list in Gaza:
Electricity : NO
Internet : NO
Cell Phone : NO
I would love to thank everyone who reported that Gaza was drowning in a cyber-darkness.