Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk made a significant announcement on a Saturday that sent ripples through the international community. He declared his intention to provide internet connectivity to the United Nations and recognized aid organizations operating in the Gaza Strip through his Starlink service. This move came in response to a sudden internet outage in the Gaza Strip following the Israel Defense Forces' (IDF) ground operations.
Musk took to Twitter to share his commitment, stating, "Starlink will provide connectivity to aid organizations recognized by the world in Gaza." This response came after Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez expressed concern about the internet blackout in Gaza. Musk went a step further by assuring that the United Nations would also receive internet connectivity support.
Israel will use all means at its disposal to fight this.— 🇮🇱שלמה קרעי - Shlomo Karhi (@shlomo_karhi) October 28, 2023
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,… https://t.co/pRNOlnINbZ
One Twitter user urged Musk to consider connecting Gaza to the internet, to which Musk replied, "It is not clear who has authority regarding connections on the ground in Gaza, but we know that no terminal has asked to connect in this area." This response hinted at the complexities surrounding internet access in conflict zones.
However, the announcement drew a strong reaction from Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, who expressed deep reservations. He stated, "Israel will use all the means at its disposal to fight this. Hamas will use it for terrorist activity. 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.”
In response, Musk sought to allay Karhi's concerns, adopting a more diplomatic tone. He said, “We are not so naive. Per my post, no Starlink terminal has attempted to connect from Gaza. If one does, we will take extraordinary measures to confirm that it is used only for purely humanitarian reasons. Moreover, we will do a security check with both the US and Israeli governments before turning on even a single terminal.” This response demonstrated Musk's commitment to ensuring that the internet connectivity he offered would serve only humanitarian purposes and undergo rigorous security checks.
It's worth noting that efforts had been underway to bring Starlink to Israel even before this announcement. While there were no reported disruptions in internet connectivity in Israel, the Ministry of Communications had revealed plans to coordinate with Starlink for internet service in the country. This initiative aimed to benefit settlements in Samaria that faced internet connectivity challenges. However, as of now, there have been no updates on the progress of these negotiations, and Minister Karhi's recent statement suggests a potential rupture in ties with Starlink.