Israel Set to Approve Starlink This Week with Conditions

Israel is poised to authorize SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service for limited operations within the country, according to Elad Malka, Deputy Director of the Communications Ministry, reports Bloomberg.

The service, however, will be restricted to official bodies, with Starlink agreeing not to provide access to humanitarian organizations in the Gaza Strip without approval from Israel’s defense establishment.

The decision to permit Starlink’s operations comes amid ongoing conflict with Hamas, designated as a terrorist organization by the US and European Union. Israel aims to use Starlink to enhance wartime communications along its southern and northern borders, while deliberately blocking the service in the Gaza Strip due to concerns that Hamas could exploit it.

Musk, who faced criticism from Israeli officials in November for suggesting Starlink’s availability in the Gaza Strip for humanitarian groups, later retracted his statement. He clarified on his X that he had not received requests from Gaza aid groups and would only activate Starlink in the region with the consent of the US and Israeli governments.

The Israeli government expedited the licensing process for Starlink as a result of the four-month-long war with Hamas, which began on October 7. This conflict has seen Hamas militants invade southern Israel, resulting in approximately 1,200 deaths and over 200 hostages. Israel’s subsequent air campaign and ground invasion in Gaza have led to over 20,000 Palestinian casualties, according to local health authorities, though Israel disputes these figures.

Starlink, having established an Israeli subsidiary, is set to commence the sale of its terminals in the coming weeks. Sales will be confined to a list of approved clients, including communications companies and local councils, as stipulated in the license.