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Elon Musk will bring internet to Israel, parts of Gaza after agreeing to ringfence Hamas access to Starlink

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Elon Musk’s Starlink won a license to operate in Israel and parts of the Gaza Strip after agreeing to a series of measures to prevent Hamas from getting access to its satellite internet services.

The service will be available to some authorities in Israel and the government approved it for use at a field hospital run by the United Arab Emirates in southern Gaza, the Israeli communications ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. 

Starlink, which will begin selling terminals via an Israeli subsidiary in the coming weeks, will initially restrict sales to a list of approved clients in Israel that include local councils and government bodies.

“Units in the Gaza Strip to support humanitarian causes will be approved individually, only after Israeli security forces confirmed it to be an authorized entity with no concern of risk or possibility of endangering national security,” Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi said in the statement.

Starlink’s services have been increasingly used in conflict zones to provide internet in areas where the infrastructure has been destroyed, including to military units. Musk activated the satellite service in Ukraine in the months after Russia invaded. The Ukrainian intelligence has said Russian forces are now using Starlink terminals on the frontline.

Israel will use the service for emergency backup communications, but required assurances from its parent, SpaceX, that Hamas — the group controlling Gaza that’s been designated as a terrorist organization by the US and European Union — won’t be able to access it. 

The UAE will partner with international and regional organizations to introduce the service at its Gaza field hospital, a spokeswoman for the country’s foreign ministry said on X. 

Read More: Musk Says He’d Like to Help Rebuild Gaza in Netanyahu Chat

The war between Israel and Hamas began with attacks on Oct. 7, when Palestinian militants invaded southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking over 200 hostage. More than 28,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s ground and air campaign in Gaza, according to the Hamas health authorities.

Musk has been eager to show his alliance with Israel in recent months, visiting the country in November and touring some of the massacre sites in the southern part of the country. The billionaire has been criticized for amplifying antisemitic content on his social platform, X, and allowing hate speech to flourish on the site formerly known as Twitter.

Musk had previously suggested he could open the Starlink service to aid groups in Gaza, but backtracked after facing a furious response from Israeli officials.

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