eSIMs are Lifelines in Gaza

This little-known technology is helping people in Gaza get around blackouts.

Valentine Wiggin
2 min readJan 21, 2024
Physical SIM card on an old iPhone
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Journalists like Bisan Owda and Motaz Azaiza have not been active online for the past few days. This is due to widespread communication blackouts in Gaza. Having lasted for over a week, these blackouts prevent Gazans and others in the area from communicating with loved ones, contacting emergency services, and even making bank transactions.

Some people have wondered how Palestinian journalists like Bisan and Motaz were able to livestream from Gaza. They use eSIM cards to connect to telecommunication networks. Today, most smartphones allow users to use electronic rather than physical SIM cards. This allows Palestinians to access the Internet using Israeli, Egyptian, or general Middle Eastern cell towers.

eSIMs come in the form of a QR code that a user activates. When the code is activated, it gives a user an amount of data to use within a set timeframe. As well as being vital for people living in Gaza, they are also popular with international students and those who live abroad but wish to keep their phone numbers.

With many things being online today, telecommunication collapse can easily plunge a nation into crisis. The organization eSIMs for Gaza allows people from abroad to purchase eSIMs and donate them to people in Gaza. This is done by screenshoting the QR code and sending it to eSIMs for Gaza also advises others to only send eSIMs to them and not to other organizations to avoid being scammed.

Despite being a vital tool for Palestinians in Gaza, this technology has its flaws. For one thing, eSIMs are useless on older phones that still have physical SIM cards. For another, users need existing connection to download new eSIMs. However, the use of eSIMs as a way to connect to the world serves as a testament to Palestinian resourcefulness and perseverance.



Valentine Wiggin

Death-positive, sex-positive, and LGBTQ-affirming Christian. Gen Z. I hate onions. She/her