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Israeli defense firm selling anti-drone systems to Ukraine by way of Poland

Government appears to turn blind eye to sale, opting not to torpedo deal for ‘advanced defensive technology’ that Defense Ministry has barred companies from supplying to Kyiv

Illustrative: This handout photo taken from video released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on August 8, 2022, shows a Russian serviceman preparing a Orlan-10 reconnaissance drone to launch at an undisclosed location. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service photo via AP)
Illustrative: This handout photo taken from video released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on August 8, 2022, shows a Russian serviceman preparing a Orlan-10 reconnaissance drone to launch at an undisclosed location. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service photo via AP)

An Israeli defense contractor is supplying anti-drone systems to Ukraine’s military by way of Poland, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew sister site Zman Yisrael reported Monday.

A source in the firm told Zman that the equipment was being sold to Poland to circumvent Israel’s refusal to sell advanced arms to Ukraine.

The company reported to the Defense Ministry that the sale was to Poland and appeared to be claiming not to be aware that Warsaw was acting as intermediary to transfer the weapons to Kyiv, which has been using the Israeli systems to fight against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Defense industry sources clarified that anti-drone systems — which can intercept and disrupt unmanned aerial vehicles — are classified as “advanced defensive technology” and therefore are not approved for sale to Ukraine. However, the Israeli government has appeared uninterested in torpedoing the deal.

There was no immediate comment from the Defense Ministry.

Israel deploys anti-drone systems along its borders with Gaza, Lebanon and Syria and is considered a world leader in developing the technology, which several Israeli firms are involved with — Israel Aerospace Industries, Elbit, MCTECH, Spear and the Avnon Group.

Israeli systems have been deployed by Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia and have also been sold to the US and countries in Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe.

Read more: Israel eases restrictions on defense exports but refuses to disclose its customers

While Western countries have supplied considerable weaponry to Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24, the Defense Ministry has opposed the sale of both offensive and advanced defensive systems to Kyiv on the grounds it would harm Jerusalem’s “sensitive relations” with Moscow.

Israel has sought to preserve ties with Russia especially due to the Russian military presence in neighboring Syria, where the Israeli Air Force has regularly has struck Iranian-linked targets — though relations have appeared to recently cool as Jerusalem has become increasingly outspoken over Ukraine. Russia, like Ukraine, also has a large Jewish community.

Prior to Russia’s invasion, Israel also reportedly sank a plan by the US to supply Ukraine with the Iron Dome, an Israeli anti-missile defense system developed with US funding that has been sold to several other countries.

Iron dome anti-missile system fires interception missiles at rockets fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, in Ashkelon on August 7, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

While refraining from sending weapons, Israel has supplied Ukraine with basic defense equipment such as helmets and protective vests, along with humanitarian aid like medicine and blankets. In July, Israel began providing direct financial support for civil aid organizations operating in the war-torn country. It also operated a field hospital in western Ukraine for six weeks before closing in April.

Jerusalem’s refusal to send military aid has irked Kyiv, which has called for Israel to sell it the Iron Dome and other defensive weapons.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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