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Elon Musk’s Gaza Internet Offer Sparks Controversy in Israel 

In a surprising turn of events, Elon Musk’s Starlink offer to provide satellite internet to Gaza aid groups has stirred a heated debate in Israel. The Israeli government expressed concerns that the technology could be misused by Hamas for “terrorist purposes.”

This controversy erupted after Musk’s announcement on social media platform X (formerly Twitter), where he pledged support from his SpaceX Starlink satellite network to aid organisations operating in Gaza during a period of disrupted communication. This disruption was the result of a mobile phone and internet blackout in the region, which coincided with intense aerial bombardment.

The blackout left Gazans cut off from the outside world, hindering vital communication for international aid agencies and emergency responders. The situation was dire, with the World Health Organization reporting that the blackout was impeding ambulance services from locating and assisting the injured.

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Dr. Anastasia Maria Loupis directly appealed to Elon Musk on social media, stating, “Gaza is under bombardment, the internet and telecommunications have been cut off. They need Starlink immediately.” In response, Musk indicated his willingness to assist, specifying that SpaceX would support communication for internationally recognized aid organisations.

However, this move didn’t sit well with Shlomo Karhi, the Israeli communications minister, who issued a strong response. He expressed concerns that Hamas, a group considered a terrorist organisation by Israel and several other countries, might exploit the satellite network for nefarious purposes. He even suggested that Musk could condition the aid on the release of Israeli citizens held by Hamas.

In defence of his offer, Musk stated, “We are not so naive. Per my post, no Starlink terminal has attempted to connect from Gaza. If one does, we will take extraordinary measures to confirm that it is used only for purely humanitarian reasons. Moreover, we will do a security check with both the US and Israeli governments before turning on even a single terminal.”

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This controversy comes in the wake of Musk’s prior involvement in international conflicts, where he provided Starlink support to Ukraine during its conflict with Russia. His actions then were widely praised, but his refusal to allow the technology to be used in a naval drone strike on Russian ships, due to concerns of triggering a nuclear response, drew attention.

Additionally, a social media post by Musk sympathising with Iran and criticizing the United States for its proximity to Iran’s military bases also raised eyebrows. This post followed US airstrikes on locations connected to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in response to attacks on US bases in the region.

The situation continues to evolve, leaving many questioning the role of technology in modern conflicts and humanitarian efforts. 

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