The US has transferred hundreds of thousands of artillery shells from its ammunition stockpiles in Israel to Ukraine in recent months, reported Axios, citing three current and former Israeli officials. The ammunition that was transferred to Ukraine was part of a US weapons stockpile that is pre-positioned in warehouses on Israeli soil as part of an agreement between the countries.
The stockpile of American military hardware and munitions in Israel is said to have its origins in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, which saw the US airlifting weapons to re-supply Israeli Forces. The US has since established warehouses in Israel for times of emergency. In the 80’s, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the two countries, paving the way for the “pre-positioning” of Pentagon assets in Israel.
The warehouses have been vital for Israel, too. The Occupation State was granted access to the ammunition during the war with Lebanon in 2006, and also during the 2014 bombardment of Gaza.
A report in the New York Times revealed that the munitions Washington decided to move from Israel to Ukraine are around 300,000 155-millimetre artillery shells. Around half of that has been sent to Europe for redistribution to Ukraine, the newspaper said.
The report has sparked speculation around US interest in the region. One analyst in the Haaretz newspaper said that supplying Ukraine with weapons stored in Israel signals that Washington has put Iran on the backburner. With Israel continuing to sabre rattle about the possibility of unilaterally attacking Iranian nuclear sites, the decision to move weapons out of Israel suggests that the Washington does not see Iran as a major threat.