The US asked Israel to allow its old Hawk anti-aircraft missiles to be sent to Ukraine, Axios reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed US and Israeli officials.
The report said the Pentagon made the request to the Israeli Defense Ministry for the air defense system. Israel first purchased the Hawk systems in the 1960s but hasn’t used them in at least ten years.
One Israeli official said that the Defense Ministry told the Pentagon that its policy of not sending weapons to Ukraine remains unchanged. Another official said Israel insisted the Hawk systems were too old and couldn’t be used even though the systems could be refurbished.
Israel has provided Ukraine with humanitarian and other types of aid but has held off on sending weapons. The previous Israeli government condemned the invasion and accused Moscow of war crimes, but the new government under Benjamin Netanyahu has signaled that policy will change.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said the new government will “talk less,” and other officials said they wanted to take a mediating role in the conflict. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly gave Cohen a message to pass to Russia’s foreign minister during their first conversation earlier this month.
Chief among Israel’s desire to avoid escalating tensions with Russia by arming Ukraine is its operations in Syria. Israel frequently bombs Russia’s ally in Damascus, and while Moscow occasionally demands the airstrikes stop, it never takes action to stop them.
While Israel hasn’t sent its own weapons, it did allow the transfer of US artillery ammunition that was stored in a little-known stockpile in Israel. Reports said Israel was reluctant to allow the transfer but ultimately agreed since the arms were owned by the US.