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Israel said to weigh expanding defense aid to Ukraine as civilian toll mounts

Ukrainian servicemen install a machine gun on a tank during the repair works after fighting against Russian forces in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, on April 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)
Ukrainian servicemen install a machine gun on a tank during the repair works after fighting against Russian forces in Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, on April 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Israeli diplomatic and military officials have discussed in recent days expanding the military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, Haaretz reports.

The discussions were held as the realization in Jerusalem sinks in that it can no longer remain on the fence, even partially, as the civilian toll in Ukraine grows.

Israel has sent several shipments of humanitarian aid, set up a field hospital inside Ukraine and most recently sent helmets and flak jackets. However, it has thus far avoided sending weapons to Kyiv in an attempt not to burn ties with Russia. Moscow controls the skies over Syria from which the IDF operates to target Iranian proxies below.

In the coming days, senior Israeli officials will hold another meeting to discuss what they are willing to send to Ukraine. The position against sending air defense systems remains, but there are other options “between helmets and Iron Dome,” a diplomatic source familiar with the matter tells Haaretz.

“There is still no intention to provide offensive weapons. Only defensive ones,” the source says, speculating that toeing this line will allow Israel to avoid a further diplomatic crisis with Russia.

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