Defense Minister Benny Gantz reaffirmed Tuesday evening that Israel does not intend to sell arms to Ukraine to fend off the Russian invasion of the country hours after the Ukrainian foreign minister said Kyiv would appeal for military aid from Jerusalem.
“I want to make it clear that we did not sell weapons to Ukraine. We gave them medical and humanitarian aid. It should be clear, we didn't sell them weapons,” he told conservative broadcaster Kol Chai Radio.
Gantz’s remarks come a day after Russia's former president and current deputy chairman of the country’s Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said that Israeli arms supplies to Ukraine would destroy ties with Moscow.
Medvedev said that “Israel appears to be getting ready to supply weapons to the Kyiv regime”, a move he dubbed as “very reckless”.
His warning apparently followed a Twitter post by Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai in which he said “the time has come for Ukraine to receive military aid [from Israel] as well, just as the USA and NATO countries provide,” following reports Iran is preparing to transfer surface-to-surface ballistic missiles to Russia.
Meanwhile, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday voiced rare support for the policies of the Israeli government in regard to the Russo-Ukrainian war.
In an interview with MSNBC to promote his new book, Netanyahu was asked about claims Israel has not done enough to support Ukraine.
“I’m the opposition leader and in two weeks I’ll replace this government, I hope — although nothing is guaranteed — but on this one, I think they’re taking a prudent policy…” he said.
In his answer, Netanyahu mentioned Israel's accepting many refugees from Ukraine, "Jews and non-Jews" as he put it, the construction of a field hospital in Ukraine at the beginning of the war and additional humanitarian aid provided by Israel to Kyiv.
As for selling weapons systems to Ukraine, Netanyahu said that “there’s always a possibility, and this happened time and again, that weapons that we supplied in one battlefield, end up in Iranians hands used against us.”
Netanyahu previously strongly criticized the government's handling of the Russia-Ukraine war, fearing damaging the delicate strategic relations between Jerusalem and Moscow, and unlike Prime Minister Yair Lapid, he is careful not to condemn Russia for what the Kremlin dubs its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
While Israel has condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine and provided Kyiv with humanitarian relief, it has stopped short of also providing military support, citing concern for continued cooperation with Moscow over next-door Syria.
Meanwhile, Ynet learned on Tuesday that Prime Minister Lapid will hold a phone call with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Thursday in which Kyiv's top diplomat will present his country's official request to receive military support.
Earlier Tuesday, Kuleba said that Kyiv would send an official note to Israel seeking immediate air defense supplies and cooperation as Ukraine faces a series of suicide drone attacks by Russia. The Ukrainians claim the "kamikaze" drones were supplied to Moscow by Iran.
Kuleba also added that he was submitting a proposal to President Volodymyr Zelensky to formally cut diplomatic ties with Tehran.
An Israeli security official told Ynet that he does not believe that such a move would work out in the near future despite Israel's sympathy with the plight of the Ukrainian people and the desire to help them.