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Internet, phone service restored in Gaza

Aug. 10, 2011 12:06 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 12, 2011 3:01 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian telecommunications company Paltel said Wednesday technicians were working to renew services to the Gaza Strip following an unprecedented outage overnight.

Paltel executive manager Ammar Al-Aker told Ma'an that Israeli bulldozers destroyed a fiber-optics cable near the border that cut mobile, Internet and international landline services for over 12 hours beginning late Tuesday.

Al-Aker said bulldozers struck several cables, the first of which was located eight meters underground. Backup cables 20 meters deep also sustained damage, eventually taking the entire network offline.

Jawwal towers receive signals from the cables, he said, so mobile services shut down.

Al-Aker said the Paltel group already obtained the necessary security coordination from Israel and have begun working to fix what the Israeli bulldozers damaged late Monday near Nahal Oz terminal.

An Israeli military spokeswoman denied involvement in the incident that damaged the wire, but said the army was investigating the circumstances and was coordinating to help repair the damage.

An assessment showed extensive damage and the work will take time, Al-Aker said. Jawwal places cables deeper underground than the global standard, so the operation must have been extensive, he said.

The official declined to discuss financial losses resulting from the incident.

During the blackout, calls to Gaza were met with error messages or dial tones as outages affected multiple platforms like outgoing landline services as well as mobile access including Israeli services.

People with subscriptions to international services like Blackberry were able to communicate, but some said reception was spotty and unreliable. Israeli wireless Internet remained online in some places.
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