Elon Musk has offered his Starlink advanced satellite system to support internationally recognized aid organizations working in Gaza, following a communications outage as Israel steps up its military campaign in the territory.
Palestinian telecommunications company Paltel announced on Friday night that all landline, mobile and internet had been lost on the Gaza Strip after the Israeli bombing destroyed remaining fiber routes serving the territory.
More from Deadline
The Israeli military action is in response to horrific terror attacks carried out by Palestinian extreme militant group Hamas in Southern Israel on October 7, which killed 1,400 people and resulted in more than 220 people being taken hostage.
Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Saturday that the military operation in Gaza Strip had entered a “new phase.”
Aid organizations, emergency services and media outlets operating on the Gaza Strip said the communications outage was severely hampering their work.
Cindy McCain, Executive Director Of the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) reported on X on Saturday that it had lost contact with its teams in Gaza and that the situation was at a “tipping point”.
— World Food Programme (@WFP) October 28, 2023
Musk offered Starlink’s services in a message on his X platform (ex-Twitter) in response to a post by Democratic U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in which she denounced the communications blackout.
“Journalists, medical professionals, humanitarian efforts, and innocents are all endangered. I do not know how such an act can be defended. The United States has historically denounced this practice,” she wrote.
Musk replied to the post: “Starlink will support connectivity to internationally recognized aid organizations in Gaza.”
Starlink will support connectivity to internationally recognized aid organizations in Gaza.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2023
It is unclear whether the communications outage is due to a deliberate act by Israel or is collateral damage.
Senior Adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mark Regev, told the BBC on Saturday that disrupting the communications of an enemy was standard behaviour for the British and American armies during military operations.
However, he would not confirm whether Israel had deliberately cut communications in Gaza.
Musk’s offer follows in the wake of Starlink’s deployment in Ukraine after Russia destroyed its telecommunications infrastructure when it invaded the country in February 2022.
The tech tycoon courted controversy, however, when it emerged that he had refused to allow Ukraine to use the Starlink service to launch a surprise attack on Russian forces in September 2022.
The offer to aid agencies in Gaza was welcomed in replies on X, but some responders asked why it could not also be extended to all Gaza residents who are now cut off from their families in other parts of the territory and the outside world.
Best of Deadline