ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 148

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Israel to reportedly test missile warning system in Kyiv next month

Report says IDF Home Front Command will deploy system to Ukrainian capital, then expand to other cities if successful; array does not include missile interception

Ukrainian emergency services employees push the remains of an S-300 missile fired by Russian forces onto a truck in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on February 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Ukrainian emergency services employees push the remains of an S-300 missile fired by Russian forces onto a truck in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on February 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

An early warning system that Israel is developing for Ukraine to sound an alert of incoming Russian strikes will reportedly be stationed in Kyiv next month as part of a pilot program.

Citing unnamed Israeli and Ukrainian officials, the Walla news site said officers from the IDF Home Front Command have met several times in Poland with officers from Ukraine in recent months for talks on deploying the system, which is similar to the one used in Israel.

However, unlike in Israel, the system set for deployment in Ukraine will feature alerts only, without interception capabilities. Ukraine had urged Jerusalem to supply it with missile interceptor capabilities, but Jerusalem has so far refused, as Israeli leaders seek to avoid overly antagonizing Russia.

This hesitance appears largely linked to Israel’s strategic need to maintain freedom of operations in Syria, where Russian forces largely control the airspace. Israel is one of the few countries that maintains relatively good relations with both Ukraine, a fellow Western democracy, and Russia.

The meetings included discussions on the need to tweak the system, with the sides noting Ukraine is vastly bigger than Israel and is targeted by more advanced missiles, according to the report.

The system will first be deployed in Kyiv, then expand to other Ukrainian cities if deemed a success, with the aim of making it operational over the summer.

Then-defense minister Benny Gantz first announced last year that Israel could supply Ukraine with the early warning system, an offer reiterated by Foreign Minister Eli Cohen during his visit to Kyiv in February.

Screenshot of Red Alert, the Israeli app that warns locals of incoming missile attacks. (Courtesy)

The Israeli warning system uses a mix of radar and electro-optic devices to detect rocket, missile, and drone launches, classify the size and the threat they represent, and pinpoint on a map the areas that are in danger.

Citizens in those areas receive warnings through sirens, alerts on their phones, and messages on TV and radio.

The system has been credited with saving hundreds of lives in Israel over the years during flare-ups of violence with terror groups in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, which have launched thousands of projectiles at Israeli cities.

In recent years the system’s accuracy has been upgraded so that it can limit its alerts to specific areas of large cities.

Also Thursday, officials responsible for Sheba Medical Center’s international projects met in Kyiv with Mayor Vitaly Klitschko.

The Israelis — the same group that led the Israeli field hospital project in Lviv last year — were in Ukraine to explore ways to join the Kyiv municipality’s new rehabilitation initiatives.

For now, the Sheba officials are looking at training local professionals in physical and psychological rehabilitation, especially for soldiers. There is a possibility that down the road that there will be a standalone Israeli rehab center in Ukraine, Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky told The Times of Israel.

Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko (center) and Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine (to his left) meet with Sheba Medical Center officials in Kyiv, April 20, 2023. (Israel Embassy Kyiv)

On May 30, the embassy will host a conference in Lviv in which Israeli medical centers and rehab facilities will showcase their capabilities and meet with Ukrainian officials to understand the country’s needs. The first ladies from both countries are expected to participate by videoconference.

The embassy in Kyiv is also planning to mark Israel’s Independence Day in the coming weeks. Next Friday, it is planning to unveil a mural in central Lviv depicting local Jewish poet Naftali Herz Imber, author of “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem. The embassy has already overseen the creation of a mural in Odesa celebrating Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky, and in Dnipro depicting the poet Zelda.

The embassy is hosting a reception in the capital on May 15 to celebrate Israel’s 75th anniversary.

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