Israeli security officials strongly denied on Thursday a report saying Saudi Arabia purchased Iron Dome missile defense systems from Israel.
London-based Al-Khaleej Online, a website reporting on news from the Gulf, cited diplomatic sources who said the sale reflects a warming of ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia. There was no confirmation of the report from Saudi officials.
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No details were given on the number of batteries allegedly purchased or the cost of the purchase, estimated at tens of millions of dollars. According to the report, the transaction will take place in December and the batteries will be deployed on Saudi Arabia’s southern border with Yemen.
Al-Khaleej Online criticized the thaw in Saudi-Israeli relations and claimed Riyadh also seeks military cooperation.
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Israel, the report said, initially opposed selling Iron Dome systems to Arab states, yet changed its stance after U.S. pressure. Diplomatic sources were quoted as saying that Saudi Arabia is expected to examine the operational effectiveness of the missile defense systems, after which it may purchase more batteries.
Israeli-Saudi cooperation has been frequently mentioned in recent years in Arab media. The reports were mostly aimed at criticizing Riyadh in the context of its crisis with Qatar.
The Iran-aligned Houthi militants, who control Yemen’s capital Sanaa and most of the west of the country, regularly fire missiles on southern Saudi Arabia and occasionally aim for higher-value targets, such as the capital Riyadh or facilities of state oil company Aramco.
Most of the missiles have been reportedly intercepted by the Saudi military. At least 112 civilians have been killed in such attacks since 2015, according to the coalition.