Amid war with Hamas, Israel announces ‘historic agreement’ to sell air defence system to NATO member Finland

Despite the ongoing war with Hamas fighters from Gaza, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet minister announced a 317 million euro ($340 million) deal for the sale of its David’s Sling air defence system to new NATO member Finland.

Israel has been bombing Palestine’s Gaza for 38 days, killing over 11,100 civilians and Hamas fighters. 

Calling it a “historic agreement,” the ministry said the system jointly developed by Israeli and US companies can intercept ballistic and cruise missiles, aircraft and drones.

The announcement comes after Israel in September signed a $3.5-billion deal — the biggest ever for the small country’s outsized arms sector — to sell its Arrow 3 hypersonic missile system to Germany.

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The long-range Arrow 3 system was also jointly developed and produced by companies in Israel and its top ally the United States, and the sale had to be approved by Washington before it could be finalised.

That deal came as Germany has led a push to bolster NATO’s air defences in Europe after the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year, urging allies to buy deterrence systems together.

According to Reuters report, German chancellor Olaf Scholz’s governing coalition has agreed in principle to double the country’s military aid for Ukraine next year to 8 billion euros ($8.5 billion).

Germany’s decision seems to be contributing to the nation’s aim to build out its role as the “central hub” of NATO in Europe.

Scholz announced the €100 billion ($107 billion) fund three days after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Bloomberg reports, two thirds of the cash will likely be allocated by the end of this year, enabling Germany to meet NATO’s goal of spending at least 2% of GDP on defense for the first time in more than three decades next year and beyond, Scholz said Friday in a speech in Berlin.

Newly minted NATO member Finland was also quick to announce plans to buy an Israeli defence system against aircraft, rockets and missiles.

A European Union plan to spend up to 20 billion euros ($21.4 billion) on military aid for Ukraine is meeting with resistance from EU countries, diplomats said this week.

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Updated: 12 Nov 2023, 07:01 PM IST

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