The United States will send ammunition initially intended for Ukraine to Israel to aid in its war against Hamas militants, Axios reported Thursday, citing three anonymous Israeli officials with knowledge of the matter.
Washington will reportedly send tens of thousands of 155mm artillery shells “in the coming weeks” to fill the depleted U.S. emergency stocks in Israel.
The artillery shells are typically kept by the U.S. on Israeli soil as part of a bilateral agreement that allows Tel Aviv to use the stored ammunition “in a war scenario in short order under U.S. approval,” Axios reported in January.
Israel stepped up deadly counterattacks on the Gaza Strip since Hamas militants' surprise Oct. 7 assault on southern Israel from the Palestinian exclave. More than 5,000 Israelis and Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in the violence.
The Pentagon began sending Ukraine the artillery shells from its emergency stockpiles in Israel sometime in late 2022, Axios and The New York Times said at the time.
Pentagon spokesman Patrick Ryder said he was confident “we can support both Ukraine and Israel in terms of their defensive needs,” Axios reported Thursday.
Ukraine has been on a counteroffensive against entrenched Russian forces in the Moscow-occupied southern Ukrainian regions since June.
Israel itself has refused to deliver weapons to Ukraine since the start of Russia's February 2022 invasion in order to avoid angering the Kremlin.
Axios reported that Israel’s military officials told their U.S. counterparts they “urgently need” the artillery shells in preparation for a ground invasion of Gaza.
“We are engaged in comprehensive coordination across the Department of Defense,” an anonymous U.S. military official told Axios.
“This includes working closely with our combatant commands to ascertain which munitions and equipment from the U.S. inventory can be quickly made available for Israel’s needs.”