November 10, 2022 | Flash Brief

Israeli Weapons Sent to Ukraine Could End Up in Iran

November 10, 2022 | Flash Brief

Israeli Weapons Sent to Ukraine Could End Up in Iran

Latest Developments

According to a report published on Wednesday, a Russian military aircraft secretly transported a British NLAW anti-tank missile, a U.S. Javelin anti-tank missile, and a Stinger anti-aircraft missile to Tehran on August 20. This news will reinforce opposition in Israel to sending weapons to Ukraine for fear they could end up in the hands of the Islamic Republic of Iran. 

Expert Analysis

“There are three simple reasons for Israel’s reluctance to send weapons to Ukraine: a desire to avoid tensions with Moscow that could constrain operational freedom in Syria, concerns about weapons leaking to Iran, and insufficient missile defense capacity at home. Those sitting in safety in the United States and western Europe should think twice before lobbing ill-informed criticisms at Israel, which confronts multiple wolves at its door.”
Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power

Growing Threats in Ukraine, Increasing Pressure in Israel

Confronting an escalating barrage of cruise missile and drone attacks, as well as the prospect of future attacks using Iranian-made Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar ballistic missiles, Kyiv asked Israel last month to provide a number of air and missile defense systems, including the Iron Dome system. In a phone call on October 24 with his Ukrainian counterpart, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz reportedly reiterated Jerusalem’s support for the Ukrainian people and continued readiness to deliver “humanitarian aid and life-saving equipment,” while making clear that “Israel will not provide weapons systems to Ukraine.” Israel has offered to help Kyiv develop an early-warning system to detect imminent missile and drone attacks.

‘Operational Considerations’

In explaining why Israel “will not deliver weapon systems to Ukraine,” Gantz cited “operational considerations.” Foremost among them is the need to maintain a status quo in which Moscow does not oppose Israeli attacks in Syria against Iranian elements transporting weapons to Hezbollah or attempting to create another front for terrorist attacks. A change in that modus vivendi would put Israel on the horns of an unacceptable dilemma: either going toe-to-toe with a superpower or giving Iran and Hezbollah free rein in Syria.

Leakage to Iran and Insufficient Missile Defense Capacity

Israel also worries that advanced weapon systems sent to Ukraine could end up in Iranian hands. While this risk could be mitigated at least partially by placing systems such as Iron Dome far from the frontline, Israelis may point to Russia’s August flight to Tehran carrying Western weapons as evidence that such concerns are not far-fetched. Tehran and its terror proxies would undoubtedly use information about Iron Dome to develop capabilities to circumvent its defenses, reducing the system’s effectiveness and increasing the ability of Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad to kill Israelis in future conflicts.

Additionally, Israel lacks sufficient missile defense capacity to deal with an attack from Lebanon-based Hezbollah. The Iranian terrorist proxy wields an estimated 2,000 unmanned aerial vehicles and 150,000 surface-to-surface rockets and missiles, a growing number of which are precision-guided munitions. It is not surprising that a country confronting such a threat is reluctant to send its finite missile defenses elsewhere.

Related Analysis

What’s Behind Israel’s Reluctance to Share Iron Dome with Ukraine?,” by Bradley Bowman 

Why Israel must not provide the Iron Dome to Ukraine,” by Jacob Nagel


Hezbollah Iran Iran Global Threat Network Israel Military and Political Power Russia U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy Ukraine