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Elon Musk needs Israel's approval to operate Starlink in Gaza 

November 28, 2023 at 9:38 am

American billionaire Elon Musk (L) and Israeli delegation, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C), visit the Kfar Aza settlements in southern Israel, one of the locations targeted by Hamas on Oct. 7, in Kfar Aza, Israel on November 2023 [Government Press Office of Israel/Anadolu Agency]

Tesla chief Elon Musk was informed that approval from Israel is required for his satellite-based communication system Starlink to operate in Gaza following his arrival in Israel.

Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi shared on X that Musk has “reached a principle understanding” with the ministry. He wrote: “Starlink satellite units can only be operated in Israel with the approval of the Israeli Ministry of Communications, including the Gaza Strip.”

Musk’s office has not yet issued a statement.

It comes after Musk in October announced that his Starlink network will extend its services to the “internationally recognised aid organisations” in the Gaza Strip after Israel cut off communications networks causing a full blackout in the besieged enclave.

However, following Musk’s offer, Israel said it would prevent the restoration of communications by Starlink by any means necessary.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog arranged an afternoon meeting with Musk and the relatives of prisoners of war held by Hamas in Gaza and addressed “the need to take action against the increasing anti-Semitism online,” his office said.

Moreover, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Musk to discuss security aspects of artificial intelligence, along with a live online discussion.

Musk faced criticism from pro-Palestinian activists who noted that he had not visited schools, hospitals and other facilities in Gaza that have been destroyed by Israeli bombardment, killing more than 15,000 Palestinians.

READ: Israeli Prime Minister shows Elon Musk around the Kibbutz

Using the hashtag #VisitGaza activists have expressed disappointment in the billionaire for not engaging with Palestinian voices recounting Israeli atrocities in the Strip.

American-Muslim scholar, Dr Omar Suleiman, directly questioned Musk: “@elonmusk Any plans to #VisitGaza and speak to the parents of the thousands of massacred children? Or the Westbank to meet the families driven from their homes by vicious settlers? Or the family of 6 year Wadea here at home since you’re so concerned about murderous propaganda?”

Israel launched a massive military campaign in the Gaza Strip on 7 October. It has since killed more than 15,000 Palestinians, including 6,150 children and over 4,000 women, according to health authorities in the enclave.