Israel to provide Ukraine with protective gear - Gantz

Israel has been trying to strike a balance between Russia and Ukraine, and Bennett is said to have declined to sell weapons to Ukraine.

 Minister of Defense Benny Gantz speaks at a conference of the Israeli newspaper "Makor Rishon" at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, February 21, 2022.  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Minister of Defense Benny Gantz speaks at a conference of the Israeli newspaper "Makor Rishon" at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, February 21, 2022.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Eight weeks into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced that Jerusalem will provide Kyiv with protective gear for its rescue and emergency organizations.

Gantz spoke with his counterpart Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov on Wednesday and said that following the request from Kyiv, Israel’s Defense Ministry will provide protective gear such as helmets and vests.

“This is part of Israel’s extensive effort to provide humanitarian aid, which includes the establishment of a field hospital, the absorption of refugees and immigrants, the provision of food and medical assistance, and more,” read a statement released by his office.

Israel has been trying to strike a balance between Russia and Ukraine. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is said to have declined in February to sell weapons after he was asked by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

According to public broadcaster KAN, when Zelensky asked for military assistance, Bennett responded with “diplomatic politeness.”

 Service members of pro-Russian troops drive an armoured vehicle during Ukraine-Russia conflict near the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 17, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO) Service members of pro-Russian troops drive an armoured vehicle during Ukraine-Russia conflict near the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine April 17, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO)

During the call, the two ministers also discussed Israel’s role led by Bennett, and the international effort to bring an end to the war.

Other countries such as Japan have sent protective gear to Ukraine, and in March, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk said that while he understood Israel might not be able to provide Ukraine with weapons, he did not understand why Jerusalem could not provide protective gear.

“I don’t know why people are afraid to provide defensive means,” Korniychuk said. “Is this a weapon? This is something simple that can be done. I hope the government could at least provide us with such things that will help save Ukrainian lives.”

As part of Israel’s aid to the embattled country, Jerusalem has set up a field hospital in Lviv, and has donated several armored ambulances via the Magen David Adom rescue services.

Saying that he appreciates Israel’s efforts to bring an end to the war, Korniychuk said that the war “for us is genocide, not unlike your situation in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Unfortunately, we are dealing with a much stronger adversary and many more casualties, so thank you for your mediation attempts.”

Jerusalem has previously blocked the US from selling Ukraine the Iron Dome missile defense system in an attempt to preserve its close ties with Russia, a key player in Syria where the IDF is carrying out airstrikes against Iranian and Hezbollah targets.

In March, Gantz commented on the criticism that Jerusalem was not doing enough to help Ukraine, saying that the Jewish state was helping to save lives.

“We see the difficult and painful fighting in Ukraine, and we do not stand by idly,” he said. “We are sending humanitarian aid, helping evacuate our citizens, absorbing immigrants and refugees, and are willing to expand aid in ways that will stop [the] fighting and save lives."