Social media platform X to launch news wire service, Musk tells staff

LONDON: Israeli authorities have threatened to cut ties with satellite communications company Starlink after boss Elon Musk said it would provide internet links for “internationally recognized aid organizations” in Gaza.

Starlink, a venture led by Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX, offers internet access in isolated or otherwise inaccessible regions through the use of low-orbit satellites.

In a message posted on his social media platform X on Saturday, Musk said: “It is not clear who has authority for ground links in Gaza, but do we know that no terminal has requested a connection in that area.” He added that Starlink’s parent company, SpaceX, “will support communication links with internationally recognized aid organizations.”

He reiterated this message in a reply to a post by US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in which she said that “cutting off all communication to a population of 2.2 million is unacceptable.”

Israel subsequently threatened to sever ties with Starlink, warning that Hamas would use internet services to plan attacks.

“Israel will use all means at its disposal to fight this,” said Shlomo Karhi, the Israeli communications minister, in a message posted on X.

“Hamas will use it for terrorist activities. There is no doubt, we know it, Musk knows it. Hamas is ISIS,” he added, using another term for the terror group Daesh.

“Perhaps Musk would be willing to condition it with the release of our abducted babies, sons, daughters, elderly people. By then, my office will cut any ties with Starlink.”

Musk responded by saying: “We are not so naive.” He added that if anyone attempts to connect to Starlink from Gaza, the company will take “extraordinary measures to confirm that it is used only for purely humanitarian reasons,” and conduct security checks with the US and Israeli governments “before turning on a single terminal.”

International humanitarian organizations say the internet blackout in Gaza, which began late on Friday, is making an already desperate situation even worse by impeding life-saving operations and blocking communications with their staff on the ground.

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