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Israel may have just torched its relationship with Russia, promising to supply Ukraine with ‘early-warning systems’

Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, said the Middle Eastern country was “working to provide Ukraine with early warning systems” in a speech on Wednesday.

Such systems would help “save civilian lives from Russia’s indiscriminate missile and drone attacks,” Erdan said.

A spokesperson for Israel’s foreign ministry told Business Insider that the system was “not Iron Dome,” Israel’s most advanced air defense system.

Rather, it would be an “alarm system” that would help “get people into shelters.” It would likely be very similar to Israel’s Tzeva Adom radar system, the spokesperson told BI.

Israel’s ‘Code Red’

Tzeva Adom, meaning “Code Red” in Hebrew, is an early-warning radar system.

Originally installed by Israel Defense Forces in the towns surrounding the Gaza Strip in the late 1990s, the system now covers the whole of Israel.

Upon detecting a rocket launch signature, the public broadcast warning system in nearby Israeli communities and military bases is automatically triggered.

A prerecorded female voice announces “Tzeva Adom” four times.

This broadcast cycle continues until no further launches are detected.

The alerts have also been available via an app on iOS and Android devices since 2014.

Israel is one of the world leaders in early-warning detection systems.

Using the system in Ukraine will likely mean that Israel will need to send specialist soldiers to help Ukrainians integrate it. The Israeli spokesperson was unable to confirm when this would take place but said the system, and those like it, should give Ukrainians more time to move to secure facilities, such as civilian bunkers, which have already become commonplace in Ukraine.

A blow to Israel-Russia relations

For the past two years, Israel has walked a diplomatic tight-rope in the Russia-Ukraine war.

During the initial invasion, Israel offered “more than 100 metric tons of humanitarian equipment,” as Erdan said in his UN speech.

A field hospital within Ukraine’s border “treated over 7000 injured,” and “hundreds of Ukrainian patients received the best possible care” in hospitals and rehabilitation centers across Israel.

But Israel has consistently stopped short of sending military aid or joining Western sanctions in part because it didn’t want to provoke Russia.

Hamas

Palestinian Hamas militants are seen during a military show in the Bani Suheila district on July 20, 2017 in Gaza City, Gaza. Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Russia has long been a backer of Iran, Hezbollah, and President Bashir al-Assad in Syria. Meanwhile, Tehran has also been providing Russia with Iranian-made Shahed drones that ahve been used to bombard cities in Ukraine.

While the move by Israel is unlikely to shift the tide of war for Ukraine dramatically, it nonetheless signals a major about-turn in Israeli foreign policy.

Erdan referred to Ukraine as Israel’s “allies” and “friends in need.”

Both countries are “fighting a battle for our survival,” he said, adding that “the state of Israel has always and will continue to remain committed to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The Israeli announcement had not “come out of the blue,” Amir Weitmann, the head of the libertarian caucus in Israel’s ruling Likud Party, told BI.

The announcement came as Russia hosts an intra-Palestinian meeting in Moscow this weekend. Representatives of Hamas and Islamic Jihad will be welcomed in the Russian capital to help the various Palestinian forces agree to unite politically, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, told state-run news agency TASS.

There is no doubt that “Russia is heavily involved in what is happening in Israel,” Weitmann said, referring to the continuing war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas that has killed tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians. However, it is not clear “at what level,” he said.

Currently, Israel has “no capacity” to provide weapons systems to other countries, especially if it were to enter a war with Hezbollah, which boasts a stockpile of up to 150,000 missiles and rockets.

Nonetheless, this was “just the beginning” of Israel’s commitment to Ukraine, the politician said.

“Israel will take a more aggressive stance against Russia” from now on, he believed, adding that if the Ukraine war is not over by the time Israel has dealt with its local problem. “Israeli weapons would find their way to Ukraine.”

An interview of Weitmann on Russia’s state-backed TV network Russia Today went viral late last year as he proclaimed that “Russia will pay the price” for “supporting the enemies of Israel.”

“We will make sure that Ukraine wins,” he said then, on RT.

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