Israel said to eye Elon Musk’s internet services in case of war in north

Full-blown war against Hezbollah may lead to damage to Israeli infrastructure; tech billionaire’s Starlink service already utilized in Gaza, Ukraine

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is pictured during a visit at the company's electric car plant in Gruenheide near Berlin, eastern Germany, on March 13, 2024 (Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)
Tesla CEO Elon Musk is pictured during a visit at the company's electric car plant in Gruenheide near Berlin, eastern Germany, on March 13, 2024 (Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

Israel is looking to use Elon Musk’s Starlink to maintain internet connectivity should there be all-out war with the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah on the northern border that causes power outages in Israel, Hebrew media reported Tuesday.

The Calcalist financial daily said that the finance and communications ministries were seeking to utilize Starlink’s 5,000 low-orbit satellites to ensure stable data flow for state authorities during emergencies.

Both ministries did not immediately comment to Reuters on the report.

A source with knowledge on the matter told Calcalist, “The ambition is that every emergency management office in a government office will have Starlink backup to ensure functional continuity in an emergency.”

In February, Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi gave permission to Starlink, the satellite unit of SpaceX, to operate in Israel and the Gaza Strip. The minister initially opposed the measure, saying the service would end up being utilized by the Hamas terror group.

Starlink is a network of satellites operated in low Earth orbit that can provide internet to remote locations, or areas that have had normal communications infrastructure disabled.

Musk also offered the service to Ukraine during the country’s ongoing war against Russia. It was later revealed in a biography of the tech billionaire that he had prevented the sinkage of a Russian fleet by withholding Starlink internet from Ukrainian forces.

US billionaire Elon Musk, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, take a tour of Kfar Aza, November 27, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

The Iran-backed Hezbollah began attacking Israel one day after Hamas’s October 7 assault – which saw terrorists kill some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnap 251 – sparked the war in Gaza, and the sides have been trading blows in the months since then. Hezbollah has said it will not stop until there is a ceasefire in Gaza.

So far, the skirmishes on the border have resulted in 10 civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 15 Israel Defense Forces soldiers and reservists. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

Hezbollah has named 349 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 64 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and dozens of civilians have been killed.

Exchanges between Israel and the Iran-backed terror group have continued to intensify in recent weeks, with the US indicating that the only way to lower tensions is through a ceasefire in the Gaza war.

Officials have warned that a full war in the north could lead to missile attacks on Israel’s power grid and other infrastructure.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated in a Sunday interview his hope that there would be a diplomatic solution to the northern border skirmishes while asserting that Israel was bracing to address the threat militarily if need be.

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