Israel offers Ukraine early warning systems for incoming missiles

PM Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel's options limited because of Russia's Middle East role

Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the war in Ukraine on a visit to Germany. Bloomberg
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Israel said on Thursday it would offer Ukraine early warning systems to alert the public about incoming missiles.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was willing to give “defensive assistance” despite its reluctance to provoke Russia.

Ukraine has not received lethal aid from Israel despite pleas from Kyiv to help it counter Iran’s influence in the war.

On a visit to Berlin, Mr Netanyahu said Israel was doing what it could, given Russia's key position in nearby Syria.

He said Israel could offer its expertise on sending air raid alerts to reduce disruption.

“We are offering Ukraine not only humanitarian help but also help in civil defence, early warning systems,” he said.

“We’re moving ahead on that. We’re moving ahead in other ways.”

He did not give further details.

Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system is regarded as one of the most advanced in the world.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told an Israeli conference last autumn that Russia was turning to air strikes “because we do not have our own Iron Dome”.

Russian attacks with missiles and Iranian-made drones pounded Ukraine’s energy grid over the winter.

Mr Netanyahu has tried to deflect criticism of Israel’s stance by positioning himself as a potential mediator in the conflict.

He said on Thursday his position was more complicated than that of European leaders because Israeli and Russian pilots fly “within spitting distance of each other” over Syria.

“But within those limitations and within those considerations, we’re trying to offer humanitarian and defensive assistance to Ukraine and that’s clearly happening as we speak,” he said.

Israel's Iron Dome is seen as one of the world's most sophisticated anti-missile systems. AFP

His visit followed reports that Israeli manufacturers could obtain licences to sell anti-drone systems to Ukraine.

Israel has also accepted wounded Ukrainian soldiers into its hospitals and offered Kyiv loan guarantees of up to $200 million.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz thanked Mr Netanyahu for Israel’s promises of “humanitarian aid and other support” to Ukraine.

Separate plans are afoot for Israel to sell its Arrow-3 missile defence system to Germany.

Mr Netanyahu meanwhile refused to back down on his plans to curb judicial power in Israel despite a plea from Mr Scholz to seek consensus.

He was urged by the German Chancellor to take a second look at a compromise plan proposed by Israel’s President Isaac Herzog.

But sticking to his plans amid claims they undermine democracy, Mr Netanyahu said: “I want to assure you, Chancellor Scholz — Israel is a liberal democracy and we will remain a liberal democracy.

“I’m supposed to be some potentate who is abolishing democracy.

“It will not take a lot of time to realise that this is absurd. It’s preposterous.”

Mr Netanyahu’s trip brought him little respite from domestic protests against his government, as demonstrators in Germany voiced their opposition to his judicial reform plans while waving Palestinian flags.

Mr Herzog had weighed in late on Wednesday to call for a compromise to prevent Israel from sliding into “civil war”.

Updated: March 16, 2023, 4:24 PM