Israel should allow the US to send its two Iron Dome missile defense batteries to Ukraine, Sens. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina suggested.
The senators cited US Army Space and Missile Defense Commanding General Lt.-Gen. Daniel Karbler’s statement in the Senate last week that the US has “two Iron Dome batteries right now. One completed new equipment training, new equipment fielding. It is prepared for deployment. The other one is wrapping up its new equipment training right now, so the army does have one [Iron Dome battery] available for deployment if we get a request.”In a letter to the leading members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Graham and Van Hollen pointed out that “Ukraine has repeatedly emphasized its need for enhanced air-defense capabilities to protect its citizens and its territory.”The senators said that the US can and should provide more air defense aid to Ukraine, beyond the Patriot and HAWK systems it already transferred.“Each Iron Dome battery can protect an area of approximately 150 square kilometers,” they wrote. “We can save more Ukrainian lives today if we transfer those batteries.”
More air defense aid to Ukraine
Israel has blocked the US from transferring Iron Dome batteries to Ukraine “due to serious concerns,” the senators said. The Iron Dome was developed in Israel, which allows Jerusalem to block its sale or transfer, even though it is manufactured in part in the US.
“To be clear, we are not asking Israel to transfer its own Iron Dome systems which are critical to their own security, but simply to allow the United States to transfer our own batteries to help the people of Ukraine,” they stated.
If that does not happen, the senators said the US should find other ways to assist, such as moving the Iron Dome batteries to another US ally to free up other air defense systems to be sent to Ukraine.The Iron Dome air and missile defense system was developed by Israeli defense company Rafael, commissioned by the Israeli government, which initially funded its development and the deployment of the first two systems. The US contributed $2.6 billion to the Iron Dome project since its deployment in 2011, allowing for the production of additional systems and interception missiles. Rafael and US-based Raytheon co-produce components of intercepting missiles for the US.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu detailed what the senators called his “serious concerns” about transferring even defensive weapons to Ukraine in an interview with The Jerusalem Post last week.
Netanyahu said it is important for Israel to be able to continue the deconfliction mechanism with Russia allowing Israel to strike Iranian targets in Syria.In addition, in light of cooperation between Russia and Iran, Netanyahu expressed “concerns that any systems that we give to Ukraine would be used against us because they could fall into Iranian hands and be used against us. And by the way, that’s not a theoretical possibility. It actually happened with the Western anti-tank weapons that we now find at our borders. So we have to be very careful here.”