Amid devastating Israeli bombardment, the Gaza Strip is facing significant disruptions in telecommunication services.
Activists and pro-Palestine supporters around the world are rallying to provide vital phone and internet connections to Palestinians facing catastrophic humanitarian conditions in Gaza, where a brutal Israeli siege and bombing campaign has led to days-long blackouts.
On Wednesday, Gaza’s telecom provider Paltel reported a “complete disruption” of communications and internet services in the besieged Strip for a second time since Israel declared war.
Days earlier, Israel imposed a near-complete communications blackout that cut off most of its 2.3 million residents from vital services for around 36 hours. While such a move disconnects the local population from the outside world and in turn allows Israel to intensify its attacks shielded from public view, it also poses a major obstacle for humanitarian organisations and paramedics to respond to life-or-death calls on the ground.
The sporadic blackouts have led concerned Palestine watchers to mobilise for a solution: eSims – a digital version of the physical SIM card that can be programmed remotely via software and be operated on tablets, smartwatches, and phones.
A Palestinian account dedicated to issuing updates on the ongoing posted a thread on how to send eSIMS to those on the ground.
How to help?
Users keen on assisting Palestinians manoeuvre around the blackout must download the “Nomad” App and create an account that can be used by a dummy email.
Next, choose the “regional plan” from the home page and then choose the “Middle East.”
A data amount will be available, and the thread advises selecting the 10 GB plan for the best impact. In the last few steps, users will be taken to checkout and can simply follow the instructions for payment.
“Upon payment, you will receive the eSim; select ‘installation instruction’ and choose the ‘add manually’ option,” the thread reads.
“This will generate a few slides with instructions. Swipe to the second slide. This slide should contain an image of the SM-DP+ address & an activation code. Screenshot the information,” the thread highlights.
Managing the email of gazaesims is Egyptian journalist and writer Mirna El-Helbawi, who publicised the endeavour when protesting at the Rafah border crossing in protest of Israel’s refusal to allow access to aid earlier in October.
“Proofs that the e-sims we sent to people in Gaza are working completely fine,” El-Helbawi posted on X, showcasing screenshots of individuals on the ground applauding the initiative.
As networks remain unstable, the Palestinian Ministry of Communications appealed to Egypt to operate communication stations near the Gaza border and activate roaming services on Egyptian networks.
“The critical humanitarian situation that cannot bear the loss of communication for any longer,” the ministry stated.
Meanwhile, calls to Elon Musk to provide Gaza with Starlink internet through his satellite-based Spacex system have been raised, with the billionaire stating, “Starlink will support connectivity to internationally recognised aid organisations in Gaza.”
Musk’s post appeared to outrage Israeli communications minister Shlomo Karhi, who responded by saying that the country “will use all means at its disposal to fight.”
“HAMAS will use it for terrorist activities. There is no doubt about it, we know it, and Musk knows it. HAMAS is ISIS. Perhaps Musk would be willing to condition it with the release of our abducted babies, sons, daughters, elderly people. All of them!” Karhi added in his X post.
There have yet to be any updates on how or when Musk will provide Gaza with Starlink internet.