Elon Musk offered to provide Starlink internet coverage in Gaza early Saturday, writing that the company will “support connectivity to internationally recognized aid organizations” as telecommunications and internet continue to be cut to the region.
Musk announced the news in reply to a tweet by congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in which she decried Israel’s decision to cut off communications.
“Cutting off all communication to a population of 2.2 million is unacceptable. Jounalists, medical professionals, humanitarian efforts and innocents are all endangered, Ocasio-Cortez, who’s been vocally critical of Musk, wrote on X. “I do not know how such an act can be defended. The United States has historically denounced this practice.
Musk tweeted in response, “Starlink will support connectivity to internationally recognized aid organizations in Gaza. [ComStar].”
The civilians of Gaza have been described as living in a “communications blackout” since Friday. Aid groups, journalists and civil organizations have all confirmed they lost contact with their people on the ground.
Media reports have indicated that it’s impossible to call hospitals for help amid active air and ground shelling, and ambulance drivers have resorted to driving in the direction of explosions to try to save lives.
The loss of communications has also meant that it’s presently impossible to know the number of casualties in the area following a night of the heaviest bombing by Israel so far. There are also concerns that Israel’s decision indicates a larger ground war looms.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), tweeted, “We have lost touch with our staff in Gaza, with health facilities, health workers and the rest of our humanitarian partners on the ground. This siege makes me gravely concerned for their safety and the immediate health risks of vulnerable patients. We urge immediate protection of all civilians and full humanitarian access.”
Musk’s company SpaceX began launching Starlink satellites in 2019 and at present is made up of over 5,000 such installations. In March 2022, Musk offered Starlink’s services to Ukraine following the Russian invasion of the country.
There are a number of aid organizations operating in the Gaza Strip. These include the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF). It is unclear if the organizations possess the technology required to connect to Starlink at this time.