newsU.S.-Israel Relations

US taps munition stockpiles in Israel to help Ukraine

“These are Israel's reserve stockpiles for times of war,” a former cabinet minister says. “The move has had a bigger meaning in light of the threats on Israel in multiple theaters.”

Ukrainian civilians and soldiers take shelter under a bridge in Kyiv, March 5, 2022. Credit: Міністерство внутрішніх справ України via Wikimedia Commons.
Ukrainian civilians and soldiers take shelter under a bridge in Kyiv, March 5, 2022. Credit: Міністерство внутрішніх справ України via Wikimedia Commons.

The volume of U.S. munitions stored in Israel has been dwindling due to the Ukraine war and it is unclear when it will be replenished, Israel Hayom has learned from Israeli sources.

Earlier this year, it was reported that the depots storing U.S. munitions in Israel had been partially tapped in order to help Ukraine fend off the Russian invasion. The depots are officially designated as U.S. military storage facilities and as such are considered to be on American soil under bilateral agreements with Israel. The understanding between Jerusalem and Washington over many decades has been that the munitions there would be earmarked for Israel in times of emergency, for example if the Jewish state faces a major attack along the scale as the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

According to sources who spoke with Israel Hayom, some of the munitions have been shipped out in recent months through the Port of Ashdod, mainly on Saturdays to avoid drawing media attention. The shipments, which began under the premierships of Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, continued until recent weeks. Israeli and foreign sources have told Israel Hayom the munitions had been drawn down because of the shortage of reserve stockpiles in the West in the wake of the continued fighting in Ukraine.

Change of priorities

An Israeli defense official said the White House had made the decision to shift the resources to another front but that given Israel’s fragile security situation in recent weeks, this could have unanticipated effects. “These are Israel’s reserve stockpiles for times of war,” a former cabinet minister said. “The move has had a bigger implication in light of the threats on Israel in multiple theaters.”

A U.S. official confirmed this, telling Israel Hayom that “it is still not clear when the reserves will be restocked.”

The official added that this depends on the manufacturing pace in the U.S. The change in how the munitions are used is also part of the U.S. pivot towards China and Ukraine, which has seen Washington put less of an emphasis on the Middle East.

Former senior Israeli defense officials have noted that President Joe Biden’s new set of priorities—including his cold shoulder extended to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by publicly saying he won’t be invited to Washington anytime soon—have had direct consequences for Israel’s strategic situation in the region. According to the officials, the administration’s actions vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states have allowed Iran to continue building up capabilities, resulting in Sunni states restoring ties with Tehran, and have made China a much more powerful player in the region.

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit confirmed the above details. In response to a query submitted by Israel Hayom, the IDF said that “U.S. equipment stored in Israel was handed over to the U.S. armed forces, in accordance with an American request.” The Prime Minister’s Office and the Defense Ministry were not immediately available for comment.

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