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Israel threatens to fight Elon Musk, as ground assault on Gaza begins

Israel threatens to fight Elon Musk, as ground assault on Gaza begins

Gaza’s residents had faced a near-total communications and Internet blackout as Israel’s warplanes dropped bombs and its troops and armour pushed into the Hamas-ruled enclave.

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk therefore offered his SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network to support communications in Gaza for “internationally recognised aid organisations”.

But Israel responded that it would fight Musk’s move, saying Hamas would “use it for terrorist activities”.

Israeli forces waged ground operations against Hamas in Gaza on Sunday in what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the second phase of a three-week-old war aimed at crushing the Palestinian Hamas.

The disruption of communications impacted rescue operations as people hit by Israeli air strikes could not call for help. However several Palestinian media outlets reported early on Sunday that phone and internet communications were returning gradually.

Netanyahu warned Israelis to expect a “long and hard” campaign but stopped short of calling the current incursions an invasion. Some of U.S. President Joe Biden’s aides have advised Israeli counterparts to hold off on an immediate all-out assault, U.S. officials have said.

Even as initial ground operations appeared limited for now, Netanyahu pledged to spare no effort to free the more than 200 hostages, including foreigners, held by Hamas.

“This is the second stage of the war whose goals are clear – to destroy Hamas’ governing and military capabilities and to bring the hostages home,” Netanyahu told a news conference on Saturday.

“We are only at the start,” he said. “We will destroy the enemy above ground and below ground.”

Israel has tightened its blockade and bombarded Gaza for three weeks since the group Hamas’ devastating Oct. 7 attack. At least 1,400 Israelis were killed in the deadliest day of the nation’s 75-year history, Israeli authorities said.

Western countries have generally backed what they say is Israel’s right to self-defence. But there has been a mounting international outcry over the toll from the bombing and growing calls for a “humanitarian pause” to allow aid to reach Gaza civilians and ease the humanitarian crisis.

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