Elon Musk's Starlink is coming to Israel, Gaza

Minister Shlomo Karhi approves the licensing of satellite internet service in Israel; will ensure internet connectivity in critical infrastructure even in situations where wired and cellular communications experience disruptions or malfunctions

Minister of Communications, Shlomo Karhi, on Wednesday granted a license to Elon Musk's Starlink satellite internet service to operate in Israel and in Gaza. "The Israeli security authorities approved the provision of Starlink services at the UAE's field hospital operating in Rafah," the Communications Ministry said in a statement. "Starlink low-latency, high-speed connections will enable video conferencing with other hospitals and real-time remote diagnostics," it said.
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According to the ministry, the initial phase of Starlink's services in Israel will have limitations, but there are plans for expansion. Local authorities, emergency departments, and government bodies will have access to advanced communication services, ensuring connectivity even during wireline and cellular communication failures.
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אילון מאסק ומסוף של סטארלינק
אילון מאסק ומסוף של סטארלינק
Elon Musk brings Starlink to Israel
(Photo: Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters, Mike Mareen / Shutterstock)
Starlink will begin selling terminals in Israel through a local branch in the upcoming weeks, according to a report in Bloombers, but in the initial stage, the sales will be limited to a specific list of customers.
Alongside the approval for Starlink's operation in Israel, the ministry and company representatives have reached agreements regarding Starlink's entry into the Gaza Strip. This issue had previously caused a delay in the service's operation due to concerns over potential misuse by Hamas.
Security officials have now given their approval for the introduction of a Starlink terminal to a United Arab Emirates field hospital in Rafah. The high-speed and low-latency connections provided by Starlink will enable conference calls with other hospitals and real-time remote diagnoses.
In a post on his platform X, Musk expressed his deep appreciation for Israel's actions and expressed hope that it would benefit both Israelis and Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Musk had previously suggested using Starlink to provide communication support in the blackout-affected Gaza enclave, specifically targeting "internationally recognized aid organizations."
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פתיחת בי"ח שדה ברפיח במימון האמירויות
פתיחת בי"ח שדה ברפיח במימון האמירויות
A UAE funded field hospital in Rafah
Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi expressed his satisfaction with the development. "This is fantastic news, and I extend my gratitude to the Starlink representatives for engaging in meaningful discussions and showing understanding regarding the Gaza Strip situation," he said. "Starlink's presence in Israel will facilitate advanced satellite communication during both regular and emergency situations. Approval for units in the Gaza Strip, intended for humanitarian aid, will be granted on an individual basis, ensuring that Israeli security officials ascertain the qualifications and absence of any security risks to the state."

A contentious process

In late October, following an incident where the Internet connection in the Gaza Strip was disrupted due to IDF activity, Musk announced that he would allow the UN and aid organizations in Gaza to use the Starlink service. In response, Karhi expressed said Israel would use all means available to stop him. "Hamas will exploit it for terrorist purposes. There is no doubt about it. We are aware of it, and Musk is aware of it. Hamas is ISIS."
Kahrhi also said Musk could use the option of connectivity as leverage to bring about the release of hostages. "Until then, the Ministry of Communications, under my leadership, will sever all connections with Starlink."Musk later took the matter up with Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar.
The Starlink project by SpaceX offers internet connectivity through a network of low-orbit satellites. Originally designed to provide stable internet access in isolated and remote areas, the project gained significance during the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022. In the aftermath of the invasion, Ukraine's communication infrastructure suffered substantial damage, prompting Musk to lend support by making Starlink available to Kyiv.
However, Musk expressed reservations about the military application of Starlink in Ukraine and, as a result, the responsibility for the service in the country was transferred to the Pentagon. In recent days, there have been reports indicating that Russia is also using Starlink terminals as part of their operations in the ongoing war in Ukraine.
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