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Middle EastNews

Bloom Mobile App: #KeepingGazaConnected

Mehdi Djimli, founder of Bloom developed a hyperlocal offline network application to connect people within Gaza without needing internet access

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Mehdi Djimli, founder of Bloom developed a hyperlocal offline network application to connect people within Gaza without needing internet access

Since 7 October 2023, Gaza has experienced approximately ten telecom blackouts in 103 days, severely hindering communication during the ongoing Israel’s war on Gaza.

Destruction of infrastructure, alleged cyberattacks, and blackout events have made it challenging for Palestinians to contact emergency services and keep in touch with loved ones. Paltel and Ooredoo – a Qatari-owned company, are the sole providers of internet and cell services in Gaza. 

According to Hamzah Naseef, Paltel’s head of operations, the company has over 500 cell towers in Gaza, and 80% have been destroyed. 

Further, due to Israeli government restrictions, Gaza has only ever operated on 2G cellular service, a condition outlined in the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation in 1993 and 1995.

Bloom Mobile Application: Keeping Gaza Connected

Since 7 October, the Gaza Strip has found itself amid a telecommunications crisis, exacerbated by the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian issue and repeated outages of essential services in the Strip.

These long-lasting outages are severely impacting Palestinian civilians’ lives, hindering their access to vital communication channels for emergency services, contact with loved ones, and connection to the outside world. 

On 29 January, five-year-old Palestinian Hind Rajab from the Tel al-Hawa neighbourhood in Gaza City was killed by the Israeli military along with her family. She was found dead with her uncle, wife and their four children in a car while fleeing Israeli bombing in northern Gaza.

The vehicle they were travelling with was surrounded by Israeli tanks for nearly 12 days. After the car caught fire, Hind called, begging rescue workers to save her during a three-hour call while being abandoned inside with her dead relatives.

Following the call, two paramedics went to rescue her. Still, they were then targeted and killed by the Israeli army as the medics tried to get permission to evacuate Hind, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

Juliette Touma has highlighted the deliberate nature of these outages in an interview for the BBC; the Communication Director of UNRWA asserted that Israeli forces are using telecommunications disruptions as a tactic of war.

According to Touma, “Telecommunications outages are used by Israel as a weapon of war”.

This intentional targeting of communication infrastructure exacerbates the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, hindering emergency response efforts and impeding the flow of information to the outside world.

Various solutions have been proposed to address the communication crisis in response to these challenges. 

Despite calls for Elon Musk to provide Starlink satellite internet to Gaza, he declined unless Israel controls its distribution or it’s for humanitarian purposes. This decision has left civilians offline.

The e-SIM campaign, led by Mirna El Helbawi, aims to distribute electronic SIM cards to enable connectivity, particularly for those near the borders of Egypt and Israel. However, this initiative faces logistical challenges such as geographical constraints and dependence on elevated locations to access networks.

Additionally, satellite communications monitored by the Israeli COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) have been suggested as a means for journalists and humanitarian organisations to share information. 

However, import restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities often impede the effectiveness of this solution.

In response to this crisis, Mehdi Djimli, founder of Bloom based in Dubai, developed a hyperlocal offline network application to connect people within Gaza using Bluetooth technology, offering communication capabilities without needing internet access. 

“I aim to connect civilians inside the Gaza Strip to ensure they can communicate, organise, and thrive. In a world where connectivity is synonymous with survival, the rallying cry is clear: Keep Gaza Connected,” says Mehdi Djimli. 

“If you are a humanitarian organisation or an individual in the Gaza Strip who wants to become a Trustworthy Offline Source to provide the installation file to civilians, contact me“, he added. 

Israel’s war on Gaza: day 194

As of 17 April 2024, 33,899 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. 

On Sunday, several bakeries in Gaza City reopened under the leadership of the World Food Program (WFP), thanks to an increase in the volumes of humanitarian aid authorised by Israel to enter the area.

These changes were announced the day after a tense telephone exchange between American President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Biden threatened to condition his support for the offensive against Hamas on the adoption of concrete measures to protect Palestinian civilians and humanitarian workers better working in the Gaza Strip. 

Israel was particularly singled out following a bombing in central Gaza on 1 April, during which seven employees of the NGO World Central Kitchen lost their lives.

The Israeli military announced on Wednesday the entry into the Gaza Strip of stocks of flour from the World Food Program (WFP) through the Israeli port of Ashdod as part of announced efforts to increase aid deliveries to the besieged Palestinian territory.

The risk of famine remains very high in the Gaza Strip. In a press release published on 18 March, the WFP announced that it expected this situation to arise “by May” north of the Gaza Strip, where 300,000 people live. According to a WFP estimate published the same day, at least half of Gaza’s inhabitants, or 1.1 million people, have completely exhausted their food reserves.

Following the Iranian attack against Israel on 14 April, in response to the Israeli attack against the annexe of the Iranian embassy in Syria, which left 16 victims, President Ebrahim Raissi said it “shattered the glory of the Zionist regime,” while participating in the traditional military parade held on a base on the outskirts of Tehran.

Israel, though, still assures that it is determined to respond after the attack on Israeli territory, despite international calls for restraint, including from its American ally, which announced new sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

According to diplomatic sources, the UN Security Council will decide on Thursday on the Palestinians’ request to become a full member state of the United Nations. An initiative which, barring any surprises, appears doomed to failure.

This date overlaps with a meeting of the Council on the situation in Gaza, which is planned for several weeks and at which several ministers from Arab countries are expected.

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