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Musk willing to provide limited Starlink service to Gaza

Musk willing to provide limited Starlink internet service to Gaza after comms blackout
3 min read
28 October, 2023
Elon Musk says he is willing to provide Starlink services to the UN and aid groups in Gaza, after communications were cut off by Israel.
Elon Musk said his company SpaceX will 'support communication links with internationally recognised aid organisations' [Chesnot/Getty-archive]

Elon Musk has responded to calls for Gaza to be provided with internet access through his Starlink satellite service, saying he will support the United Nations and internationally recognised aid groups.

Communications were largely cut off in the besieged enclave on Friday amid an escalation in the indiscriminate Israeli war against the strip, which has so far killed more than 7,700 people, including nearly 3,600 children.

Many social media users on Friday and Saturday called for the Starlink service to be provided, using the trending hashtag #starlinkforgaza in their posts.

Egyptian comedian Mohamed Henedy tagged Musk in a post on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, which the tech entrepreneur owns.

"There is an ongoing genocide in Gaza, with all communications cut off," Henedy said.

"You have always spoken about how Starlink is for good and for humanity. Now is the time to prove it. Starlink could save and help thousands of innocent people right now.

"If you are seeing this tweet, please hear our voices now."

Starlink is part of Musk's aerospace firm SpaceX. The service is currently helping Ukrainians access the internet amid Russia's ongoing invasion.

Responding to a user who said Gaza needed Starlink immediately, Musk posted: "It is not clear who has authority for ground links in Gaza, but we do know that no terminal has requested a connection in that area."

The user followed up by asking the tech entrepreneur to investigate, adding that people were suffering and unable to tell the world what they were experiencing.

Musk replied: "No terminals from Gaza have attempted to communicate with our constellation.

"SpaceX will support communication links with internationally recognised aid organisations."

He similarly vowed to support aid groups in response to a post by US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who did not mention Starlink but was commenting on the communications blackout in Gaza.

Terminals are devices that enable users to connect to Starlink. It was not clear how many are currently in Gaza, which has been heavily blockaded by Israel since 2007.

A different X user with the handle @HamadAlMajidi said there were United Nations teams in the devastated enclave, adding that officials should be willing to file a request if required to secure Starlink terminals and connections.

He said: "This is not even about free speech, it's about survival at this point.

"If you do supply them and Israel blocks their entry, you will have done your part."