Feb 14, 2024 - World

Israel says it will allow UAE field hospital in Gaza Strip to use Elon Musk's Starlink

Elon Musk gives a keynote speech via video conference at the Mobile World Congress fair in Barcelona, Spain, last June. Photo: Jose Colon/Getty Images

Elon Musk gives a keynote speech via video conference at the Mobile World Congress fair in Barcelona, Spain, last June. Photo: Jose Colon/Getty Images

Israel will allow a United Arab Emirates field hospital in the Gaza Strip to use Elon Musk's Starlink satellite internet service, Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi said on Wednesday.

The big picture: Israel must approve any use of the service in Gaza under the agreement between Starlink and the Israeli government, according to Karhi.

  • "Units in the Gaza Strip to support humanitarian causes will be approved individually, only after Israeli security forces confirmed it to be an authorized entity with no concern of risk or possibility of endangering national security," he said.
  • Starlink will also be available to certain local authorities and governmental bodies in Israel. "Starlink's entry into Israel will enable advanced satellite communication in routine and during times of emergency," Karhi added.
  • SpaceX's Starlink did not immediately comment on Israel's announcement.

What they're saying: A UAE Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on social media that the country is working "in partnership with various international and regional organizations and hospitals to introduce SpaceX's Starlink satellite broadband at its field hospital" in the southern city of Rafah.

  • "[T]his step further underscores the UAE's unwavering efforts to stand in solidarity with the brotherly [Palestinian] people during the ongoing war," spokesperson Afra Al Hameli said.
  • The service will be used to "enable potentially life-saving medical consultations via real-time video calling," she added.

Catch up quick: As Gaza experienced one of its first communications blackouts last October, Musk said that Starlink would support connectivity for "internationally recognized aid organizations" in the enclave.

  • Karhi said at the time Israel would use "all means at its disposal" to fight Gaza getting access to Starlink, claiming Hamas would use it.
  • During Musk's trip to Israel in November, Karhi said that Starlink and the Israeli government had agreed on a "principle understanding" that Israel must approve any use in Gaza.

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