Tel Aviv (GPA) – The Israeli Defense Ministry on Thursday denied recent reports that it had signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia that would allow Riyadh to purchase Israeli Iron Dome missiles.
The Defense Ministry wrote that they “denied the existence of a deal to sell Iron Dome to Saudi Arabia” in an emailed statement to the Zionist media outlet, the Times of Israel, that same day.
Iron Dome manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems also denied the existence of the sale.
News of the deal surfaced after London based Gulf-news outlet Al-Khaleej Online reported that Saudi Arabia bought the Iron Dome system from “Israel,” citing unnamed “diplomatic sources.”
Before Israel’s written denial, numerous other media outlets, including many Israeli platforms, reported on the deal, referencing the Al-Khaleej report but in its headlines, mentioning only the sale.
According to the sources, Saudi Arabia is seeking to move to the next stage of their alliance with Israel from one based upon sharing Iran as a common enemy to the level of regular military and intelligence sharing, weapons purchases, and publicity in these exchanges.
The deal also demonstrated increasingly close military and political cooperation between the two entities.
In 2017, the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) Military Chief Gadi Eisenkot was interviewed by Saudi paper Elaph, also headquartered in London, stating his willingness to cooperate with Riyadh against regional foes.
The sentiments were reciprocated by two eminent Saudi princes in London, who reportedly told a senior official in the IOF that “you are not our enemies anymore.”
A series of three secret meetings were held in Washington, where the U.S. was instrumental in convincing Israel, originally hesitant to engage in the transaction with an Arab state, to sell the missile system to Saudi Arabia.
The U.S., allies with both regimes, appropriated $210 million to the Iron Dome in 2012 through the US Senate Armed Services Committee.
Yet it was Israel in 2015 which reportedly sought to sell the Iron Dome to Saudi Arabia at the beginning of its war with Yemen, citing the IOF interception of 90 percent of rocket fire coming from Gaza during its brutal 2014 attack on the Palestinian territory as an advantage in ensuring an upper hand for the Saudis in protecting them from retaliation for their siege on Yemen. At the time, Saudi Arabia denied the offer.
In recent months, however, Saudi Arabia has eyed the purchase of the Iron Dome system, signaling a reversal of its 2015 decline of the proposal, also recommended then by the U.S. at a conference in Amman.
The failure of US-supplied Patriot missiles and the lack of support from both Egypt and Pakistan to contribute on-the-ground on Saudi Arabia’s behalf in Yemen prompted Riyadh to reassess its earlier decision.
The deal is planned to be implemented by December, where the Iron Dome battery will be placed on the Saudi-Yemeni border, with the intent of intercepting missiles coming from Yemen.
Saudi Arabia is seeking to expand its military capability in its US-backed siege on Yemen, which, according to a GEE report, consisted of widespread war crimes including routine violence against civilians such precision strikes against children and sexual abuse against men, women, and children in detention centers under US and Emirati control.
Not included in the report were the 250,000 deaths from the Saudi-imposed, US-backed blockade, the one million cholera victims, and how an estimated 22 million Yemenis now verge on the brink of starvation.
Despite Israel’s vehement denial of the sale, Saudi Arabia’s desire for increased defense against an onslaught of missiles from the Ansarullah in Yemen join Israel’s economic and military drain from overextending its security apparatus and financial support of Syrian jihadists, the latter which it recently cut.
The Saudis are facing impending defeat in their war on Yemen, close to eventual defeat against Yemen’s resistance, the Ansarullah. Saudi Arabia launched the war in 2015 in hopes of crippling its regional antagonist, Iran, an economic and political objective shared with the United States, which entered the war shortly after to reinforce its ally, Saudi Arabia’s, regional hegemony.
Israel’s stakes in Yemen have matched that of the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. The defensive military alliance between Iran and the Ansarullah bolsters the strength and capabilities of resistance groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, posing an existential threat to the continuation and expansion of its occupation of Palestine.
The Israeli entity has been vocal about its vested interests in Yemen, entailing military objectives that match with Riyadh’s. At a speech earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed objectives in pressuring “the dangerous, extremist regime of Iran” through a build-up of alliances between itself and GCC monarchies against Yemen.
A September 6 op-ed in the Jerusalem Post suggested that the Zionist entity “should consider providing air and logistical support for the Saudi-led coalition” given its stakes in not neglecting an opportunity to “weaken the Houthis and immeasurably strengthen Israel’s relationship with the Gulf monarchies.”
The success of Saudi’s implementation of the Israeli artillery could open up the door to future and more frequent sales.
This will also open the door “talks with Israel to buy additional military systems,” as well as more “military exchanges between the two sides.”
Saudi Arabia has increased its arms imports by 225% in the last 5 years, as of March 2018.