Russia, Syria, Ukraine’s Jews… Israel’s dangerous game in Ukraine

So far, Israel has managed to control itself, and is probably the only country in the world that can send senior officers to the Russian Defense Ministry to discuss Syria as well as to the Pentagon in the same week. The United States clearly enjoys the status of a great ally with military assistance of $3.8 billion a year. But the Russians have a great troublesome force in the Middle East. They also appealed to the order at the beginning of the month to organize joint air maneuvers with the Syrian Air Force. Even better, they made the photos of these maneuvers public for the first time.

The goal of the operation? Clarifying that the freedom of action of Israel, which has carried out hundreds of airstrikes and missiles in Syria against Iranian and Lebanese targets affiliated with Hezbollah in recent years, has also relied, perhaps above all the goodwill of Moscow, on its steadfast support as well. Bashar al-Assad. Behavior “Denial From Israel in Ukraine could push the Russians to threaten Israeli aircraft operating in Syria, where Moscow has bases. “With great powers, everything is connected”, confirms Meir Ben-Shabbat, a former Israeli national security advisor. Small details: Israel is not part of NATO, but last year it participated in joint naval and air exercises with members of the organization.

Save the Russian bear

In Ukraine, Israel is also playing the caution card. Kiev wants to equip itself with Iron Dome, an Israeli anti-missile battery system, which has proven its worth by intercepting thousands of rockets fired by Palestinian Islamists affiliated with Hamas at the Jewish state from the Gaza Strip. There is little chance that Israeli officials will accept the Ukrainian request. To spare the Russian bear, the line Israel has always taken has been to refrain from providing weapons and electronic equipment for military use to countries of the former Soviet Union in conflict with Moscow, such as Georgia or Ukraine.

Read also: Ukraine: “Europeans were not excluded from the discussions between Russia and the United States”

On the humanitarian front, Israeli officials also take into account the approximately 75,000 Ukrainian Jews eligible for the Law of Return, who live in the far east of their country, that is, the most vulnerable to possible Russian aggression. They may find themselves caught in the middle of the fighting and want, at least for some of them, to immigrate to Israel in search of safety. Israeli media reported that at a recent low-level meeting of Israeli officials from various ministries and immigration agencies, an air evacuation plan was discussed, so as not to be surprised.

High tech subcontracting

Another source of concern concerns the fate of the 15,000-17,000 Ukrainian engineers, computer scientists and programmers employed by dozens of Israeli “high-tech” companies in regions closer to the Russian border. These companies have called for this subcontracting due to the skill of the Ukrainian experts and the salary costs which are approximately 40% lower than those practiced in Israel with the same professional skill. This use of foreign labor is also practiced in countries such as Serbia, Bulgaria, Belarus and Poland, but Ukraine always gets preferential treatment.

Read also: In 2022, Israel will continue to put pressure on Bashar al-Assad (and on Iran)

Also in this case, the disaster scenario of hasty departure is taken into account. “We are in the process of finalizing an emergency evacuation program for our employees to one of our offices in Poland, Israel or Asia to ensure our activities continue. We also plan to provide them with satellite phones in case communications and internet are down. [par les Russes] » Says an executive of an Israeli company specializing in electronic games, who requested anonymity because “ Security reasons”.

Tess Larson

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