Ukraine Wants Israel's Iron Dome Defense System

Ukraine wants to purchase Israel's Iron Dome defense system to use against Russia and has accused the Israeli government of not providing enough military or medical assistance.

The Ukrainian ambassador to Israel, Yevgen Korniychuk, said the Israeli media and government had forgotten about the war, and he stepped up calls for the country to allow the transfer of a much needed anti-tank guided missile system.

While grateful for its humanitarian assistance, Korniychuk said "we have had zero military-technical cooperation with Israel since the war started."

"Ukraine has been removed from the Israeli press almost completely," he told reporters on Tuesday, The Jerusalem Post reported, "so there is no war anymore."

Israel's Iron Dome defense system
An Iron Dome defense system battery, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells, is pictured on the outskirts of the Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona on May 19, 2022. Ukraine's ambassador to Israel has said Kyiv wants to purchase the system and accused Israel of not providing military support for its fight against Russia. JALAA MAREY/Getty Images

Israel has been careful in its response to the war in Ukraine, backing Kyiv on the one hand but not publicly criticizing Russia on the other, although it did vote to condemn Moscow at the UN General Assembly.

The Israeli government has been reluctant to provide Ukraine with military assistance, as it tries to be a negotiator between Kyiv and Moscow, which it does not want to antagonize because it controls the skies over Syria where Israel carries out air strikes.

But Korniychuk said that Israel needed to do more to help with Ukraine's war effort.

"I want the Israeli government to move away from its comfort zone and get back to reality," he told reporters. "We need Israeli assistance."

"We need Iron Dome," he said, referring to the air defense system that can intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells fired from distances of 2.5 miles to 43 miles away.

He said the system produced by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems would "allow us to save our civilian women and children from the shelling of the Russian missiles in our territory."

Israel is unlikely to sell the Iron Dome to Ukraine, or any other country, because of regulations signed with the U.S. regarding defense exports, The Post reported, although the Rafael-produced David's Sling and SPYDER air defense systems could be provided.

There are also international obligations to control Israel's defense export market, although in February, The Times of Israel reported that the country was planning to advance the sale of missile defense systems to the United Arab Emirates.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson provided a statement to Newsweek which said, "as a matter of policy, we will not comment on or confirm details or internal deliberations regarding defense export licensing activities."

The statement said that the U.S. would "continue close coordination with more than 40 countries joining us to support Ukraine." It added that as the world's "leading provider of security assistance to Ukraine in its hour of need," it was "encouraging allies and partners worldwide to do the same."

Korniychuk also said that "Israel said no" to transferring the Rafael-made SPIKE 5th-generation anti-tank guided missile from Germany to Ukraine, despite Washington and Berlin giving permission for the deal.

"Israel does not owe Ukraine anything," Korniychuk said. "We are not begging you for help.

"We do believe that on the moral side, Israel has…to help Ukraine with all possible means."

Ben Moore, deputy spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry told Newsweek in a statement that his country was "deeply invested" in providing humanitarian and medical aid to Ukraine. This included delivering supplies to help refugees and establishing the Shining Star field hospital, which has treated more than 6,000 patients in six weeks.

He added that Israel was preparing to return its Ukrainian Embassy staff back to Kyiv and that the country "stands with the Ukrainian people, and has shown such through its statements, UN voting record, and policies it has enacted."

Update 06/08/22, 10:00 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with comments from the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Update 06/08/22, 10:50 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with comments from the U.S. State Department.