Israeli Officials Inclined to Increase Ukraine Aid in Face of Russian Atrocities

The U.S. and European countries are already supplying Ukraine beyond Israel's capabilities, but Israeli officials fear not sending more help may erode global trust in its defense industries

Ukrainian officials receive a shipment of Britain's military aid at Boryspil International Airport outside Kyiv, in February.
Ukrainian officials receive a shipment of Britain's military aid at Boryspil International Airport outside Kyiv, in February.Credit: Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters

Political and military officials in Israel are increasingly inclined to bolster the country's military and civilian assistance to Ukraine, as growing evidence of Russian atrocities against Ukrainian civilians makes Israel's shaky neutrality on the war less tenable.

In a discussion of the issue, most officials supported Israel increasing the amount of military and civilian supplies provided to Ukraine. An additional discussion is expected in the coming days, during which the list of items that can be sent to Ukraine will be reviewed.

Officials have said that between helmets for soldiers to Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system there are plenty of items which can be sent. There was a consensus among the relevant officials that – at least at this stage – air defense systems, advanced weaponry and attack systems would not be provided to the Ukrainian army. It is believed that defensive systems that protect troops on the ground, personal combat gear and warning systems could be sent without causing a crisis with the Russians.

Israel intends to take a more substantial step, but the support will be more declarative in nature and not include substantial quantities of supplies, partly because the United States and European countries are already supplying Ukraine beyond Israel's capabilities.

So far, Israel has provided humanitarian assistance such as the field hospital that was set up on Ukrainian territory, in addition to about 100 tons of humanitarian supplies that have included water purification systems, medical equipment, blankets and coats. Defense Minister Benny Gantz also recently approved protective vests and helmets for the Ukrainian army, but Israel announced at the time that it did not intend to send advanced weaponry, as the Ukrainians have requested since Russia invaded the country on February 24.

According to one source speaking on the condition of anonymity, the reasons for supporting Ukraine cited at the meeting included an understanding that the United States and various European countries expect Israel to take a clearer position as to which side it is on in the war and to back its decision with deeds and not just statements by political officials, senior as they may be.

In addition, there is concern in Israel that its military industries, which export advanced weapons systems to various countries, could be hurt if the countries that have these Israeli security systems begin to worry that in a crunch, Israel might refrain from continuing to provide systems and weaponry due to political considerations.

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