US Secretly Ships Munitions From Massive Stockpiles In Israel To Ukraine – Report – The Times of Israel

US Secretly Ships Munitions From Massive Stockpiles In Israel To Ukraine – Report – The Times of Israel

The US military is secretly shipping hundreds of thousands of artillery shells to Ukraine from a huge stockpile in Israel, according to a report Tuesday.

The ammunition supply is located in Israel for the US military to use in regional conflicts. The US has also given Israel permission to use some of the supplies in emergency situations, the New York Times reported, citing US and Israeli officials.

The previous government approved the move as Israel sought to chart a course between maintaining ties with the US and Ukraine and not angering Russia.

US officials first raised the possibility of supplying Ukraine from inventory in Israel last year, sparking concern in Jerusalem over how Russia would respond, the report said.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin informed Benny Gantz, then Israel’s defense minister, that the US planned to tap into the stocks, an Israeli official said.

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Gantz discussed the motion with the cabinet, which asked security officials to intervene. Defense officials said Israel should accept the plan to avoid any friction with Washington and because the ammunition belongs to the US. Then-Prime Minister Yair Lapid approved the move after talks with cabinet and security officials, the report said.

The US and Israel agreed to ship about 300,000 shells to Ukraine, Israeli and US officials told the Times.

US Secretly Ships Munitions From Massive Stockpiles In Israel To

National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem January 16, 2023. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The existence of the stockpile had previously been acknowledged, although this was not widely known. The Times was the first to report that it was used to supply Ukraine.

Israeli officials told the Times that Jerusalem has not changed its position against sending lethal weapons to Ukraine, but is fine with the US using its own supplies.

Israel has refused to supply arms to Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion. A key reason for Israel’s hesitation appears to be its strategic need to maintain freedom of operation in Syria, where Russian forces largely control the airspace.

The affair has strained relations between Jerusalem and Kyiv, as Ukrainians have constantly pressed Israel for more defense aid. Ukraine’s ambassador on Tuesday again urged Israel to provide its country with anti-missile defense systems after sustained deadly Russian attacks.

Israel has been sending large amounts of humanitarian and other types of aid to Ukraine, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government has said it intends to keep those supplies flowing.

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A Ukrainian soldier prepares artillery shells to shell Russian positions in Ukraine’s Zaporizhia region, December 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Kateryna Klochko)

US stockpiles in Israel date back to the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The US supplied arms to besieged Israeli forces during the war and then established storage facilities in Israel for use in a potential crisis.

US tanks and armored personnel carriers were stowed in the Negev desert in case American forces in the Middle East needed them. Later, in the 2000s, ammunition for the various branches of the US military was stored in Israel in locations accessible only to US personnel, the report said.

The stock was officially known as War Reserve Stocks for Allies-Israel or WRSA-I. It was overseen by US European Command and is now overseen by US Central Command, which includes Israel as of 2021.

According to a congressional report last year, Israel used ammunition from the stockpile during the 2006 Lebanon war against the Hezbollah terrorist group and during battles against Gaza terrorists in 2014.

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A Ukrainian soldier carries a 155mm artillery shell before firing at Russian positions with a US-supplied M777 howitzer July 14, 2022 in Kharkiv region, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Artillery has become a key element in the war in Ukraine as the two sides engage in a battle of attrition from afar.

Ukraine has run out of its own stockpiles and has started using mostly supplies from the US and other western countries, but Kiev’s armed forces fire about 90,000 artillery shells a month, far exceeding the production capacities of the US and Europe combined.

The US has approached the camp in Israel, as well as another in South Korea, to make up the difference and keep shells flowing to Ukraine. The munitions will be shipped to Europe and shipped from Poland to Ukraine, according to a New York Times report.

Other countries such as Germany, Canada and Italy have also sent artillery shells to Ukraine. The US has delivered or promised just over 1 million 155mm shells to Kyiv, a US official told The Times.

Two senior Israeli officials said the US has pledged to replenish its stockpiles in Israel and supply ammunition in an emergency.

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