A day after the Hamas terror attack on October 7, residents of Gaza-border communities took matters into their own hands to ensure continuous internet and communication services. They initiated a project to bring a terminal of the Starlink satellite internet service from the United States and installed it in Moshav Ein Habesor.
The residents’ decision to take action came after they fought Hamas terrorists without any communication equipment, relying only on a local alert squad’s WhatsApp group to communicate with each other. Recognizing the need for better communication abilities, an initiative was developed to purchase dozens of Skylink terminals and distribute them to communities near the borders with Gaza and Lebanon.
Efforts were made to contact SpaceX, the company operating Starlink, as well as the Israeli Communications Ministry and Defense Ministry to seek approval for the project. Initially, the Communications Ministry supported the initiative, and the first terminal was successfully installed in Israel. However, Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, later announced that Starlink would operate for humanitarian needs in the Gaza Strip as well.
As a result, Starlink’s service in Israeli towns close to the Gaza border was temporarily halted by the company, stating that the Communications Ministry was not allowing its operation in Israel at the time. This decision received criticism from the residents, who felt let down by the ministry’s backtrack on their support for the project. They believe the initiative relieves the government from having to manage and fund every step for the residents’ benefit during times of crisis.
The Communications Ministry stated that Starlink’s activity in Israel is currently prohibited until the licensing process is completed. They insist on a commitment from the company not to introduce satellite terminals in Gaza without their approval. Only with this commitment will Starlink’s satellites be authorized to provide service in Israel.
Despite the setbacks, residents of communities near the Gaza border are determined not to wait for the ministry’s approval and funding. They have expressed their willingness to work with SpaceX to install the backup internet systems, while still respecting the ministry’s steps.
The initiative has highlighted the importance of continuous communication services for the security and well-being of the communities in southern Israel.