Israeli officials said the Pentagon plans to transfer tens of thousands of 155 mm artillery shells to the country, initially intended to aid Ukraine.
According to the agreement between the two countries, the number of 155 mm artillery shells is in the US emergency reserve located in Israel. The US began withdrawing artillery shells from warehouses in Israel earlier this year to aid Ukraine.
At that time, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commented that “there is no immediate scenario in which Israel needs an emergency supply of artillery shells.” However, the situation changed completely after the coordinated attack by Hamas on Israel, three officials said on October 19.
After the Hamas attack, the IDF assessed the urgent need for weapons and transferred them to the Pentagon. Israel believes it urgently needs artillery shells to prepare for a ground campaign against the Gaza Strip and the possibility of escalating conflict with Hezbollah along the Israel-Lebanon border, three anonymous Israeli security officials told the Axios news website.
The IDF proposed to take back tens of thousands of artillery shells, expected to be transferred to Ukraine and brought to the emergency reserve to prepare for a scenario where the above ammunition needs to be used quickly. Israeli officials said the US had agreed and would ship ammunition to the country in the coming weeks.
US officials assessed that the decision to redirect artillery shells from Ukraine to Israel “will not immediately impact the Ukrainian military’s ability to fight Russia.”
However, many people fear that US military aid to Ukraine will be stretched if the Israel-Hamas war breaks into a larger regional conflict.
In a press conference on October 19, Brigadier Patrick Ryder, Pentagon spokesman, downplayed the above concerns. “We are confident that we can support the defense needs of both Ukraine and Israel,” General Ryder said.
A US defense official affirmed that the Pentagon and the US Transportation Command “have strong deployment and distribution capabilities to continue to support Israel and other countries.” This person refused to reveal details about the number of weapons that will be shipped to Israel.
“We are engaged in a fully coordinated operation within the Pentagon, including working with combatant commanders to determine which munitions and military equipment in the US inventory can be quickly supplied to meet the needs of the United States.” Israel’s request,” the US defense official said.
According to an agreement between the two countries, the US places its weapons warehouse in Israel, but only US military personnel are allowed to access these facilities. According to the agreement, Israel can use ammunition stored in the above weapons warehouse in case of emergency if the US approves.
The US once granted Israel the right to use ammunition in its stockpile during its conflict with Lebanon in 2006 and the campaign against the Gaza Strip in 2014.
On October 7, the Hamas group launched a large-scale coordinated attack on Israel by land, air and sea. Israel then blockaded and raided the Gaza Strip in response.
Israeli artillery significantly increased the frequency of firing against the Gaza Strip, as well as southern Lebanon, in retaliation for raids by Hezbollah and Palestinian militia groups operating there.