Saudi Arabia has procured an Israeli-made Iron Dome ‎defense system, the Persian Gulf-based ‎Alkhaleej Online ‎website reported on Thursday, saying ‎‎the deal marks another step in the warming ties ‎‎between Jerusalem and Riyadh.‎

Iron Dome is designed to intercept and destroy ‎‎short-range rockets and artillery shells fired from ‎‎distances of 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) to 70 ‎‎kilometers (43 miles).‎

The system was developed by Rafael Advanced Defense ‎Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries, and has ‎been sold to several other countries, including ‎Azerbaijan, India and Romania.‎

Israel and Saudi Arabia do not maintain formal ‎diplomatic ties and the Saudis have so far refrained from ‎pursuing arms deals with Israel to avoid criticism ‎in the Arab world. ‎

According to the report, the deal will be brokered ‎‎by a third party, most likely the United States, to ‎‎spare Saudi Arabia ‎such criticism. ‎

Saudi sources told the website that the sale was the ‎result of understandings reached between it and Israel, and ‎that their clandestine ties have ‎fostered sufficient trust to pursue an arms deal of ‎this kind. ‎

Alkhaleej Online ‎reported that initially, Israel had ‎‎refused to sell Iron Dome to the Saudis, saying that ‎any such sale to an Arab nation would “seriously ‎compromise Israel’s security and regional ‎interests.”

Washington played a key role in mediating the sale ‎‎through a series of secret meetings, overcoming ‎Israel’s initial objections, according to the report. ‎

“Saudi Arabia will pay Israel tens of millions of ‎dollars for the Iron Dome defense system. There is a ‎commitment that the deal will be carried out via ‎U.S. mediation, as well as a guarantee that this ‎system will not pose a threat to the security of Israel ‎and its allies in the region,” one diplomatic source ‎told the Gulf website. ‎

According to the report, the deal is expected to be ‎finalized by December.‎

The first Iron Dome battery will most likely be ‎deployed on the Saudi-Yemen border, from where ‎Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have been firing ‎rockets at Saudi forces. ‎

‎“If Iron Dome succeeds in intercepting the rockets ‎that pose a threat to the kingdom, there will be ‎talks with Israel to acquire additional military ‎systems, and this will open the door to military ‎agreements between the two nations,” the diplomatic ‎source said.‎