The United States has reportedly agreed to provide tens of thousands of 155mm artillery shells to Israel, diverting them from their original destination of Ukraine. The Israeli military has requested the shells in preparation for a potential ground invasion of Gaza.
The US maintains a stockpile of ammunition in Israel, which is only accessible to US forces. In response to Ukraine’s high demand for ammunition, the US started taking shells from this facility and another stockpile in South Korea earlier this year.
Israeli officials have informed the Pentagon that they need the shells urgently, and the US has agreed to refill the stockpile in Israel using ammunition that had been earmarked for Ukraine. The shells are expected to arrive in Israel in the coming weeks.
This decision comes just after US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel, during which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Biden had promised a “massive, unprecedented” package of military aid. It is unclear whether the artillery shells were included in this package.
The timing of this decision is crucial as Ukraine is currently facing a conflict with Russia. Kiev is seeking support from European nations for the arms it needs to defend itself. However, American officials are reportedly focused on rushing weapons to Israel, leaving Ukraine in a difficult position.
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky recently visited NATO headquarters in Brussels, requesting support and long-distance weapons. The US Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, has stated that Washington can afford to fight two foreign wars. However, funds allocated to Ukraine by Congress are running out, and President Biden is seeking approval from the Republican Party to provide $60 billion in military and economic aid to Ukraine by linking it to a $10 billion aid package for Israel.
In the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, Israel has predominantly relied on airstrikes rather than heavy artillery. However, Israeli troops are currently amassed along the Gaza border, preparing for a potential ground operation. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has stated that this operation will take place “soon.” Artillery shells will be urgently needed for this offensive, according to Israeli officials.
In conclusion, the US’s decision to reroute 155mm artillery shells from Ukraine to Israel highlights the ongoing tensions and conflicts in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. It also sheds light on the complex political calculations and alliances that shape military aid decisions. The repercussions of this decision may have significant implications for both Israel’s conflict with Hamas and Ukraine’s struggle against Russian aggression.