Elon Musk visits Israel amid discussions over Starlink internet in Gaza

Elon Musk arrived in Israel on Monday, as Israel announced an agreement that Starlink would only operate in Israel and Gaza with the Israeli government’s approval. Israel’s Minister of Communications Shlomo Karhi announced the agreement on X, the social media platform that Musk owns.

“Elon Musk, I congratulate you for reaching a principle understanding with the Ministry of Communications under my leadership,” Karhi wrote. “As a result of this significant agreement, Starlink satellite units can only be operated in Israel with the approval of the Israeli Ministry of Communications, including the Gaza Strip.”

Musk has faced growing backlash after he called an antisemitic post on X “the actual truth.” The post prompted brands to pause ads on X, which has been criticized as a place where hate is allowed and perpetuated. The White House also issued a statement about Musk’s post, saying it was an “abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate” that goes against the core values of America.

In his statement announcing the agreement, Karhi said he hopes Musk is “able to gain valuable insight,” during his trip to Israel “and that it will serve as a springboard for future endeavors, as well as enhance your relationship with the Jewish people and values we share with the entire world.”

elon musk visits israel amid discussions over starlink internet in gaza

In this handout image, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, takes Elon Musk, left, on a tour of Kibbutz Kfar Aza, which was attacked by Hamas in the Oct. 7 massacre, on Nov, 27, 2023.  / Credit: Israeli Government Press Office

Hamas, a terrorist organization that controls Gaza, the strip of land that’s home to nearly 2 million Palestinians, launched a brutal attack on Israel on Oct. 7, prompting the war.

On Oct. 28, Israel said it had entered a new phase of war and had expanded its ground attacks in an effort to dismantle Hamas. The attacks caused a blackout that cut off internet access for what was believed to be all of Gaza. Thousands of Palestinians have been killed in Israeli bombardments of Gaza since the war began.

Musk had proposed providing internet to Gaza last month and said Starlink could help the area connect with “internationally recognized aid organizations,” according to Reuters. But Karhi said “Hamas will use it [Starlink] for terrorist activities” and rejected the idea.

elon musk visits israel amid discussions over starlink internet in gaza

Billionaire and boss of the social network X, Elon Musk, center, traveled to Israel during the temporary cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, Nov. 27, 2023. / Credit: Israeli Government Press Office

During his visit to Israel on Monday, Musk met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and visited the Kfar Aza kibbutz, which Hamas attacked on Oct. 7, the brutal infiltration that started the war. Netanyahu’s office released video of the visit and in a X Spaces conversation — a live chat on X — with Netanyahu, Musk said it was “jarring to see the scene of the massacre.”

Musk also wrote in a post on X during his visit Monday: “Actions speak louder than words.”

Musk is also expected to meet with Israeli President Isaac Herzog as well as the relatives of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, according to Reuters. After a four-day ceasefire agreement, Hamas released groups of hostages taken from Israel after the terrorist group attacked the Jewish state on Oct. 7 in return for the release of Palestinian prisoners.

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