Elon Musk showed up in southern Israel on Monday at the personal invitation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where he was given a tour of an Israeli kibbutz left desolate by the Oct.7 Hamas terror raids.
Musk while on a tour of Kfar Aza heard details from Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops of the massacres in the kibbutz. Israeli media has described it as a scene of "horrors"—one among more than 20 communities ravaged, where in some cases entire families were butchered. Musk later in the day said it was "it was jarring to see the scene of the massacre."
Musk heard briefings and personal stories both of tragedy and heroism, including the story of kidnapped Israeli-American toddler Avigail Idan, who turned 4 in captivity but was released Sunday as part of the third round hostage swap between Hamas and Israel. Her parents were murdered directly before her eyes, with accounts saying her dad was holding her when he was shot.
After also being shown a short film of the Hamas attacks, Musk commented that it was "troubling" to see the "to see the joy experienced by people that were killing innocent civilians."
As part of Musk's visit, he and PM Netanyahu held a live talk via X Spaces (recently known as Twitter Spaces) wherein the prime minister repeated his call for Hamas to be destroyed. Musk responded, "There's no choice," and said after touring ravaged kibbutzes: "I'd like to help as well." The full section of that exchange is below:
Netanyahu laid out that his main priority is to neutralize Hamas, after which he will turn to rebuilding Gaza: "You first have to get rid of this poisonous regime."
Musk agreed and offered to be involved in the post-war recovery.
"I think that makes perfect sense that those who are intent on murder must be neutralized, then the propaganda must stop ... and then making Gaza prosperous," Musk said.
"Well, I hope you’ll be involved," Netanyahu responded.
"I’d love to help," Musk said.
In statements which are likely to prove controversial, particularly to the pro-Palestinian side, Musk also voiced that civilian casualties are "unavoidable" and generally appeared to back Israel's position that it is trying hard to avoid them while seeking to target only terrorists.
Lately Israeli officials have tried to make controversial historical comparisons to WWII, which hasn't always gone well in Western media encounters at a moment the Palestinian death toll has reached the grim milestone of 15,000 killed. Musk said in the Spaces chat:
"You need to pair firmness and taking out the terrorists and those intent on murder, and at the same time help those that remain, which is what happened in Germany and Japan," he adds.
"Usually the victor punishes the loser," he continues, and points to the rehabilitation of Germany and Japan by the allies after World War II as examples of how reconstruction efforts after a major war and a clear-cut victory helped secure peace for a long period of time.
Musk's visit comes during the last day of a four-day agreed upon Israel-Hamas truce which is set to end, but there are reports that it could get extended by at least two more days, during which time more hostages would be released, and more Palestinians freed from Israeli prisons.
As for ways that Musk might help Gaza, particularly in a future post-war and reconstruction phase, he's said that already an agreement in principle has been reached for using SpaceX's Starlink communications in the Gaza Strip. He said last month that it could "support connectivity to internationally recognized aid organizations in Gaza" after much of it went dark amid the Israeli bombing campaign.
There's as yet been no public confirmation of the deal from Musk or SpaceX. Additionally, on Monday Israeli communications minister Shlomo Karhi posted on X that Musk had "reach[ed] a principle understanding" with the ministry, and that Israel must give approval for Starlink to operate. "Starlink satellite units can only be operated in Israel with the approval of the Israeli Ministry of Communications, including the Gaza Strip," Karhi said.
Netanyahu and Musk Have BRAVE Conversation About Israel and Palestine 🇮🇱 🇵🇸— James Porrazzo (@JamesPorrazzo) November 27, 2023
According to Channel 14 in Israel, some highlights of their conversation include:
- Netanyahu labeling Hamas as a "death cult," asserting they would do more damage if they had the ability.
- Musk… pic.twitter.com/VABUT17aDr
Currently, US media reports have been alleging widespread antisemitism on X - and have sought to highlight Musk's own personal interaction with posts on the platform, resulting in some major advertisers to exit.
But Musk's invitation to Israel, where he's also slated to meet President Isaac Herzog later in the day, begs the question: if Musk is "antisemitic" - as his detractors and enemies claim - why would the Jewish state readily invite him for such a high-level visit where the prime minister takes him on a personal tour? As if admitting and underscoring the discrepancy and glaring contradiction, those same voices are now lashing out at the Israel government for hosting the official trip.