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Israel held fire amid growing pressure from Ukraine

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Israel rejects desperate calls from Ukraine to counter Iran’s use of kamikaze drones with the intent of maintaining strategic ties between Jerusalem and Moscow.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Wednesday that Israel will not “provide weapons systems” but that Jerusalem will continue to side with Western support for Kiev.

“We asked Ukrainians to share information about their needs and offered to help develop a life-saving early warning system,” he told European Union ambassadors.

Israel has sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine, publicly condemned Russia’s invasion, and is reportedly sharing intelligence with Kyiv.

But Moscow withdrew strategic military aid, hoping to preserve its ties.

These ties include Israel’s communications with Russia to target Iranian arms transfers in Syria, and Israel’s concerns over the Jewish diaspora in Russia.

Gantz’s refusal of military aid comes after the Ukrainian Embassy in Israel formally called for air defense systems, after two weeks of devastating Russian attacks using Iranian drones.

So-called Kamikaze drones, Shahed-136, killed civilians in their homes and on the street, and destroyed critical infrastructure threatening the nation’s electricity and water supplies as winter temperatures began to take effect.

In a letter sent by the Ukrainian Embassy in Israel on Tuesday, it asked the Israeli government to engage in “mutual co-operation in the field of air/missile defense” and warned that Iran’s war experience with weapons systems poses a direct threat to the Middle East.

“The request of the Ukrainian side to support the above-mentioned proposals by Israel is based on the belief that Iran’s positive experience in using the above-mentioned weapons in Ukraine will lead to the further improvement of Iranian systems,” the letter said. and reported by Axios.

The letter calls for Israel’s Iron Dome system, which has the latest 97 percent success rate in intercepting about 600 missiles fired from the Gaza Strip in a matter of days in August.

“We are a country at war ourselves, I don’t think we can afford to empty our warehouses,” said Uzi Rubin, founder and first director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization at the Israeli Ministry of Defense and a fellow at the Jerusalem Missile Defense Institute. Strategy and Security.

“We export weapons. We are one of the top 10 exporters. But that means that if you want an Israeli system, you have to contract for it and wait for it to be produced.”

Other air defense systems that Ukraine requested in its letter are the Barak-8, David’s Sling and Arrow Interceptor – advanced and layered air defense systems that can intercept medium and long-range rockets and missiles and are increasingly used to intercept drones.

Other requests, such as the Iron Beam, a high-energy laser weapon system developed by Israeli weapons manufacturer Rafael, are not functional. While the Ukrainians are requesting a Patriot Missile Defense System from the Israelis, this system is made by the US and is deployed in Saudi Arabia for missile and drone defense.

While the US Army has two Iron Dome batteries, the administration has not sent any signals that it wants to send them to Ukraine.

Becca Wasser, senior member of the defense program at the Center for New American Security, said one reason the United States didn’t ship its own Iron Dome is because it only has two, and only one is operational in Guam.

“Few years ago [House Armed Services Committee] “He was talking about the US sending one of the Iron Dome batteries to Ukraine long before the latest events related to the invasion of Russia happened,” he said.

“But at the end of the day… there aren’t that many Iron Dome systems in the United States.”

But he added that recently there has been pressure from the United States “for other allies and partners to step up in providing Ukraine with air defense”.

Seth Frantzman, author of “UAV Wars: Pioneers, Killing Machines, Artificial Intelligence, and the War for the Future,” said early detection is more critical than expensive air defense systems, adding that the Iranian-made kamikaze drone is slow-moving and “like a flying lawnmower.” “

“Ukraine needs the right kind of radar to detect drones,” he said, giving them time to decide how to hit them with warplanes, shoulder-launched rockets or small arms fire.

Germany, Spain, NATO and the United States have and are sending more air defense systems to Ukraine, but Kyiv is begging for more.

“Iranian drones attacking Ukraine were probably built to attack Israel” to tweetd Anton Gerashchenko, Advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. “Israel knows better than anyone what it’s like to fight terrorists. We ask Israel to provide us with air defense systems and defensive weapons – they are critical when dealing with terrorists.”

Frantzman said Israel is familiar with Russia’s use of Iranian drones.

“It is actually used by the Russians to beat up the civilian population and terrorize people. Israel has faced similar types of random rocket fire and now a bit of drone fire, so they built systems like Iron Dome,” he said. “So from Israel’s point of view, it looks like Israel has already seen that.”

The Biden administration has backed away from public calls that Israel is providing critical military defense to Kiev, while quietly pushing for Jerusalem to stand firmer on Ukraine’s side against Russian aggression.

“We said we were pleased – maybe the wrong word – but we were okay with Israel’s complex relationship. [with Russia]Tom Nides, the US Ambassador to Israel, said in an interview with The Hill in September.

“Obviously it’s a bit complicated for Israel, but we push them every day,” he added.

A few isolated voices in Israel said Iran’s drone sales and anticipated missile sales to Russia were reason enough to justify military deliveries.

“This morning it was reported that Iran has transferred ballistic missiles to Russia. There is no longer any doubt where Israel should stand in this bloody conflict,” said Nachman Shai, Israel’s Minister for Diaspora Affairs. to tweetSunday. “The time has come for Ukraine to receive military aid as provided by the United States and NATO countries.”

For Israel, Russia’s use of Iranian drones could offer an opportunity to gather intelligence for future conflicts with Tehran, Rubin said.

“Of course [the Iranians] learn more — The conflict in Ukraine is a very high-intensity conflict, they learn from it. But we also learn how to deal with them, we see what happens and we learn from that too.”

And Russia has issued stern warnings to cut ties with Israel if Jerusalem changes its position.

“It seems that Israel will supply weapons to the Kyiv regime. A very irresponsible move. Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council and a key ally of Putin, wrote to Telegram.

Rubin said that Medvedev’s threats had repercussions in Israel.

“Israel declared neutrality because we have relations with Russia. “I don’t think we can give up easily,” he said.

Israel is poised to hold elections in November, and there is little public pressure for the government to support Ukraine more strongly. Survey data from March revealed that only 22 percent of Israelis support sending military aid to Ukraine, with voters focusing heavily on the rising cost of living.

“As an Israeli, I want to keep our channels to Russia open, but I’m a citizen, I’m just a taxpayer and a voter, I don’t make the decisions,” said Rubin.