The final portion of Israel’s 100-ton humanitarian aid package to Ukraine was prepared for transport Tuesday morning at Ben Gurion Airport, with the El Al plane carrying the aid — preceded by two additional flights in the past hours — set to take off later in the day to Warsaw, for expected delivery in Ukraine this week.
“This is a gesture of friendship to the Ukrainian people,” said a representative from Mashav, a division of the Foreign Ministry that coordinates Israel’s national aid, as the third plane was being loaded.
“The mission, 100 tons in one day to Ukraine, is without precedent and we should be proud about it,” she said.
The aid includes 17 tons of medical equipment and medicine, water purification systems intended to supply 200,000 people, emergency water supply kits to supply 100,000 people, winter tents to house 3,000, 15,000 blankets, 3,000 sleeping bags, and 2,700 winter coats.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid finalized the contents of the package, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.
Israel has been turning down requests to send military or dual-use equipment to Ukraine, part of the tightrope it has tried to walk to balance its interests between Ukraine and Russia, which invaded its neighbor, a former Soviet state, last Thursday.
Russia maintains a military presence in Syria, Israel’s northern and bellicose neighbor. The need to balance security interests at home and policy abroad have produced a relatively restrained response from the Israeli government, which has tried to maintain good relations with both Moscow and Kyiv.
In part because of Israel’s relatively unique place among democracies as having good relations with the warring capitals, on Friday Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked Bennett to intercede with Russia on Ukraine’s behalf.
On Sunday, Bennett called Russian President Vladimir Putin to offer Israel as a negotiator. Ukrainian envoy to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk said that Putin was not pleased by the offer, but remained hopeful that the Russian president may reconsider should the current Russian-Ukrainian talks on the Belarussian border collapse.