Ukraine celebrates paratroopers with photo of soldier with Israeli rifle

Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov shared an image of an airborne soldier with an Israeli-designed Tavor rifle.

Tavor 7 bullpup assault rifle (photo credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)
Tavor 7 bullpup assault rifle
(photo credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)

A picture of a soldier armed with an Israeli rifle was shared by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry to celebrate its paratroopers on Monday. 

"I congratulate our service members on Ukrainian Air Assault Forces Day!" Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov commented, sharing the picture of the airborne serviceman with a version of an Israel Weapons Industry Tavor rifle likely produced in Ukraine under license. "Thank you for the courage and professionalism shown in the fierce battles for the freedom of Ukraine."

Ukraine and the Israeli Tavor rifle

Produced by Ukrainian company RPC Fort as the FORT-221, Tavor rifles have been occasionally seen in images from the ongoing Russia-Ukraine War. 

 A soldier from the Granite Battalion of the Nahal Brigade is seen holding a Tavor rifle while training in the Golan Heights (Illustrative). (credit: Nir Gal, IDF Spokesperson's Unit/Flickr) A soldier from the Granite Battalion of the Nahal Brigade is seen holding a Tavor rifle while training in the Golan Heights (Illustrative). (credit: Nir Gal, IDF Spokesperson's Unit/Flickr)

In 2018, Haaretz published a photo showing the Israeli-designed rifle being held by a soldier from the controversial Azov Battalion. According to Haaretz, human rights activists had filed a petition to the High Court of Justice demanding an end to arms exports to Ukraine over concern they would reach Azov militants.

MATADOR anti-tank weapon

Another weapon Israel jointly developed by Israel, Singapore and a German company, the MATADOR anti-armor weapon, was seen in use by Azov forces in April.

The video published by Azov showed a Ukrainian fighter shooting the portable anti-tank weapon at what appears to be a Russian armored personnel carrier (APC).

The weapon likely reached Azov's hands through the German Defense Ministry. According to a March Süddeutsche Zeitung report, 2,650 MATADORs were purchased by the Ukrainian government. 

Israeli-made armored vehicles in Kherson

On November 11, open-source intelligence account Ukraine Weapons Tracker identified Israeli GAIA Amir Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles in Kherson.

Israeli journalist Barak Ravid claimed on November 13 that an Israeli official told him that the vehicle was purchased by a third-party European state and transferred without Israeli approval.

Ukraine and Israel defense ties

Israel has officially provided no combat arms or materials to Ukraine, but has provided humanitarian aid such as food and non-weapon gear such as helmets and vests. 

Ukrainian officials have pressed the Israeli government for a more substantial commitment, including air defense systems, but Israeli leaders have declined. 

"Our policy vis-à-vis Ukraine will not change,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in mid-October. “We will continue to support and stand with the West. We will not provide weapons systems. We have asked the Ukrainians to share information regarding their needs and have offered to assist in developing a life-saving, early-warning system.”

Anna Ahronheim and Roman Meitav contributed to this report.