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Report: Ukraine not cooperating with Israel on proposed missile alert system

Channel 13 says Israeli officials believe Kyiv may be unhappy with the offer, as Jerusalem is refusing to supply it with interceptor systems

Firefighters work after a drone attack on buildings in Kyiv, Ukraine, October 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Roman Hrytsyna, File)
Firefighters work after a drone attack on buildings in Kyiv, Ukraine, October 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Roman Hrytsyna, File)

Israel has proposed to supply Ukraine with an alert system for aerial threats, but Kyiv has not been cooperating on the matter, according to a weekend report.

Citing unidentified Israeli sources, Channel 13 reported that Israel has sought information from Ukrainian authorities to help it shape a system to fit its needs, but has made little headway.

The network said Israeli officials believe Kyiv may be unhappy with the offer, as Jerusalem continues to refuse to provide Ukraine with defensive weaponry that would enable the country to intercept threats.

On Wednesday Defense Minister Benny Gantz reiterated that Israel would not supply weapons to Ukraine to fight Russia’s eight-month-long invasion, but said it could supply an early-warning system to the beleaguered nation to warn of incoming strikes, like the one used in Israel.

However, Israel’s system is paired with Iron Dome and other interceptor batteries that can hit incoming threats, an element Israel doesn’t appear to be willing to offer Kyiv.

Israel’s 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.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks in Rishon LeZion, October 20, 2022 (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

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

The system has been credited with saving hundreds of lives 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.

Ukrainian cities in recent weeks have faced repeated attacks by Iranian-made loitering munitions, also known as suicide drones, and other missiles launched by Russia.

Since the early days of the invasion, senior Ukrainian officials have asked Israel to send its missile defense systems, especially the Iron Dome, in public addresses and in private conversations with decision-makers in Jerusalem.

But Jerusalem has so far avoided providing direct military aid to Kyiv — neither offensive arms nor advanced defensive technology — since Russian troops invaded Ukraine on February 24, in an attempt to avoid sparking a crisis with Moscow.

Firefighters work after a drone hit on buildings in Kyiv, Ukraine, October 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Roman Hrytsyna)

Israel is one of the few countries that maintains relatively warm relations with both Ukraine, a fellow Western democracy, and Russia.

But Israel has found itself at odds with Russia as Jerusalem has increasingly supported Ukraine while seeking to maintain freedom of movement in Syria’s skies, which are largely controlled by Moscow.

In an official request submitted to Israel this week, the Ukrainian government asked for top air defense systems developed by Israel, some of which are not yet operational, according to a letter obtained by the Axios website.

The outlet cited a copy of the Tuesday letter containing the requests, which stated that Ukraine “is highly interested in obtaining from Israel (in shortest possible terms) defense systems, in particular: Iron Beam, Barak-8, Patriot, Iron Dome, David’s Sling, Arrow Interceptor and Israeli support in training for Ukrainian operators.”

The laser-based Iron Beam, intended for use against short-range missile and mortar attacks as well as drones, is not yet operational. The Patriot missile defense system is made by the US and has not been included in the hardware of Washington’s own multi-billion dollar supplies to Ukraine.

Firefighters work after a drone fired on buildings in Kyiv, Ukraine, October 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

David’s Sling and the Arrow Interceptor, medium- and long-range defense systems respectively, are cutting-edge interceptors.

In justifying the requests, the Ukrainians said that “according to available information… there is a high probability of prompt deliveries to the Russian Federation of Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar ballistic missiles from Iran,” Axios reported.

They noted that Russia “has switched to new methods of armed aggression against Ukraine,” including attacks on civilian areas using Iranian drones.

The letter argued that supplying the requested systems will benefit Israel as “positive experience gained by Iran of using… weapons in Ukraine will lead to further improvement of Iranian systems.”

Such experience will “significantly contribute in strengthening Iran’s potential of producing offensive weapons and, as a result, will increase the security threats for the State of Israel and the Middle East region,” the letter noted.

“The Ukrainian side expects a positive reaction from Israel to this proposal,” the letter said.

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