Musk offers Starlink internet for ‘recognized’ aid organizations in Gaza

Israel threatens to cut ties with satellite company, says Hamas will use connectivity for terror activities, suggests Musk condition it on release of hostages

Elon Musk at the Vivatech technology startups and innovation fair at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, on June 16, 2023. (Alain Jocard/AFP)
Elon Musk at the Vivatech technology startups and innovation fair at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, on June 16, 2023. (Alain Jocard/AFP)

Billionaire Elon Musk on Saturday said that his Starlink satellite service would support internet access for “internationally recognized aid organizations in Gaza,” which have faced a telecommunications blackout since Friday.

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

Musk, who owns Starlink operator SpaceX, was responding to a post by US Democrat congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in which she called the communications blackout in Gaza “unacceptable.”

“Starlink will support connectivity to internationally recognized aid organizations in Gaza,” Musk wrote on X, formerly Twitter, which he also owns.

Israel’s Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi threatened to cut off contact with Starlink if Musk goes ahead. On X, Karhi tweeted: “Israel will use all means at its disposal to fight this.

“HAMAS will use it for terrorist activities. There is no doubt about it, we know it, and Musk knows it. HAMAS is ISIS. Perhaps Musk would be willing to condition it with the release of our abducted babies, sons, daughters, elderly people. All of them!”

“By then, my office will cut any ties with Starlink,” he said.

Destroyed buildings in Gaza City, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023. (AP/Abed Khaled)

In response to Musk’s offer, head of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “We could really benefit from Starlink to try getting in touch with our staff and health facilities in Gaza. How can we make it happen?”

UN agencies and NGOs had earlier on Saturday reported that they had lost contact with their teams in the Gaza Strip.

“Hospitals and humanitarian operations can’t continue without communications,” Lynn Hastings, UN resident and humanitarian coordinator, wrote on X.

Israel has responded with aerial bombardment of terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip after the Palestinian enclave ‘s Hamas rulers launched an unprecedented terror assault on Israel on October 7. That Saturday morning, some 2,500 Hamas terrorists invaded southern Israel by land, sea, and air and seized over 20 communities, killing over 1,400 people, mostly civilians including entire families and attendants at an outdoor music festival.

Terrorists also abducted some 230 people, including children and the elderly, and are holding them as hostages in Gaza.

Since Israel launched retaliatory air and artillery strikes on the day of the attack, at least 8,000 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip, according to figures released by the territory’s Hamas-controlled health ministry.

Those numbers cannot be independently verified and include Palestinian terrorists killed by Israel as well as Palestinian civilians killed by errant rockets launched by terror groups in Gaza.

Israel says it killed 1,500 Hamas terrorists inside Israel on and after October 7.

Musk’s Starlink satellite internet service was also deployed in Ukraine shortly after the Russian invasion in February 2022.

This file photo taken on September 25, 2022 shows an antenna of the Starlink satellite-based broadband system donated by the US tech billionaire Elon Musk in Izyum, Kharkiv region, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Yasuyoshi CHIBA/AFP)

The network, which helps increasingly high-tech soldiers to operate in areas where other means of communication are down, is a key battlefield tool for Kyiv.

In September, Musk said he had prevented Ukraine from wiping out Russia’s Black Sea navy fleet last year by denying Starlink internet access.

“There was an emergency request from government authorities to activate Starlink all the way to Sevastopol. The obvious intent being to sink most of the Russian fleet at anchor,” Musk wrote on X.

The statement sparked sharp condemnation from Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Most Popular
read more: