Elon Musk recently stated that SpaceX’s Starlink would help Gaza with communication links through “internationally recognized aid organizations.” This announcement stirred tension with Israel’s communication minister, who vowed to oppose the move.
Musk, posting on the social platform X, mentioned the uncertainty about the authority handling ground links in Gaza. He clarified that no terminal in that area had requested a connection yet.
On Saturday, a phone and internet blackout isolated Gaza’s residents, making it nearly impossible to communicate with loved ones or emergency services due to Israel’s expanded air and ground assault. International humanitarian groups expressed concerns, stating that the blackout worsened an already dire situation, hindering life-saving operations and contact with their on-ground staff.
SpaceX has not yet responded to Reuters’ inquiry about how they plan to ensure that Starlink connections are used solely by aid organizations and not by Hamas, the Palestinian militant group governing Gaza.
Israel’s communication minister, Shlomo Karhi, responded to Musk’s post on X, emphasizing Israel’s determination to combat this initiative. He raised concerns that Hamas might misuse the technology for terrorist activities and suggested conditioning its use on the release of abducted individuals.
After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Starlink satellites played a crucial role in maintaining internet connectivity in some areas, despite attempts by Russia to disrupt it. Musk, in response, refused to extend coverage over Russian-occupied Crimea, refusing to let his satellites be utilized in Ukrainian attacks against Russian forces there.
Reported by Emily Rose in Jerusalem and Baranjot Kaur in Bengaluru; Edited by Diane Craft, David Gregorio, and Daniel Wallis