Axios has reported that three Israeli officials informed them that tens of thousands of United States 155mm artillery shells from emergency stock that were meant to go to Ukraine, have now been diverted by the Pentagon with the intent to send them to Israel to assist in their ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, Palestine.
The Pentagon plans to send Israel tens of thousands of 155mm artillery shells that had been designated for Ukraine from U.S. emergency stocks several months ago, three Israeli officials with knowledge of the situation tell Axios.
Starting in early 2023, the U.S. began drawing down 155mm artillery shells from its considerable ammunition stockpiles in Israel to send them to Ukraine. At the time, the Israeli military told then-Prime Minister Yair Lapid and then-Minister of Defense Benny Gantz that there was no immediate scenario in which Israel would need an emergency supply of shells.
The ammunition that had been designated for Ukraine was part of a U.S. weapons stockpile that is kept in Israel as part of an agreement between the countries. Only U.S. military personnel have access to the weapons storage sites. But according to the agreement between the countries, Israel can use the ammunition in a war scenario in short order, with U.S. approval. Israel was granted access to the ammunition during its war with Lebanon in 2006 and also during the 2014 Gaza conflict.
After the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, the IDF conducted an initial assessment of its urgent weapons needs and gave it to the Pentagon.
The Israel Defense Forces and the Israeli ministry of defense told their U.S. counterparts they urgently need artillery shells to prepare for a ground invasion in Gaza — and a potential escalation of the war by Hezbollah along the Israel-Lebanon border, Israeli officials say.
One of the requests was to get tens of thousands of 155mm artillery shells back to fill the depleted U.S. emergency stocks in Israel, in case the Israeli military needed to use the shells on short notice, the Israeli officials said. The Israeli officials said the U.S. agreed and will be sending the artillery shells to Israel in the coming weeks.
A U.S. military official told Axios he can’t give details about the specific weapons being sent to Israel. He said the Department of Defense and the U.S. Transportation Command have robust global deployment and distribution capabilities that can continue to support Israel as well as other countries.
“We are engaged in comprehensive coordination across the Department of Defense. 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,” the U.S. military official said.