Israel sends more defensive aid to Ukraine

Jerusalem has hesitated to provide Ukraine with any military assistance, even that of a defensive nature, given that it has attempted to maintain ties with both Moscow and Kyiv.

 Israel prepares to send humanitarian aid to Ukraine, March 1, 2022 (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Israel prepares to send humanitarian aid to Ukraine, March 1, 2022
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

A new batch of defensive aid equipment is on its way to Ukraine, just two days after Defense Minister Benny Gantz approved the shipment as Russia continues to press on with its war.

The latest package includes 1,500 helmets, 1,500 protective vests, hundreds of mine protection suits, 1,000 gas masks and dozens of hazmat filtration systems.

The first shipment to the war-torn country was in April when Gantz approved sending Ukrainian emergency services 2,000 helmets and 500 flak jackets.

Israel has hesitated to provide Ukraine with any military assistance, even that of a defensive nature, as it has attempted to maintain ties with both Moscow and Kyiv.

At issue for Israel in particular, is the presence of Russian forces in Syria on its northern border and its continued need to coordinate its aerial attacks against Iranian targets there with Moscow.

 The flag of Ukraine hangs and flies, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, outside a shop near the service road of the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx borough of New York City, US, May 16, 2022.  (credit: REUTERS/SHANNON STAPLETON) The flag of Ukraine hangs and flies, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, outside a shop near the service road of the Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx borough of New York City, US, May 16, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/SHANNON STAPLETON)

Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has also been one of the world leaders who attempted to mediate between Russia and Ukraine.

In a briefing to reports on Wednesday evening, a senior American source said President Joe Biden will ask Prime Minister Yair Lapid to increase Israel’s military aid to Ukraine.

“We are happy with the new assistance Israel announced in recent days, but there are specific needs Ukraine has that we are going to talk about with the Israelis,” the source said.

Biden is in Israel for a two-day visit before heading to Saudi Arabia on Friday. He met with Gantz and other senior military officials. While Iran was a main topic, the defense establishment understands that the war in Ukraine is a top concern for the United States and Europe.

Washington has pushed Jerusalem to take a more aggressive stance against Moscow, with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan revealing earlier this week that Iran is preparing to deliver several hundred drones to Russia for the war.

Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel

In early June, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk spoke of his frustration over Israel’s failure to provide defensive military assistance to his country, technical military support and continued medical support, including its refusal to treat Ukrainian soldiers in its hospitals.

“I want the Israeli government to move away from its comfort zone and get back to reality,” Korniychuk said, adding that the country needs Israeli assistance.

“I mean that we need the military-technical support, we need Iron Dome… that will allow us to save our civilian women and children from the shelling of the Russian missiles in our territory,” Korniychuk said.

Nevertheless, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov later said that the Iron Dome wouldn’t work against Russian missiles.

Speaking at a Forbes conference Reznikov said that he had been to Israel and spoke to manufacturers about the famed defense system.

"I mean that we need the military-technical support, We need an Iron Dome… that will allow us to save our civilian women and children from the shelling of the Russian missiles in our territory."

Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk

“We all know the example of Israel, which protects the sky quite well. We all know the name Iron Dome, but even it does not give 100% protection. In fact, I’ve been to Israel and talked to their manufacturers and state enterprises,”

he said. “The Iron Dome was built [for protection] against slow, low-altitude, low-impact missiles that were basically made in garages. Iron Dome does not protect against cruise and ballistic missiles.”

Reznikov noted another system, also developed in Israel and purchased by the Czech Republic, likely the SPYDER missile defense system manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defense System-the manufacturer of the Iron Dome.

“So we need to develop our air defense/anti-missile defense system, or to obtain one, including from our partners,” he said.