Israel open to joint missile defense with Gulf states

Head of Defense Ministry’s missile defense organization says U.S. would have to approve, but “we have the same enemies.”

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The head of Israel’s missile program in the Defense Ministry said Tuesday that he is open to cooperation on missile defense with Gulf Arab countries that would benefit both sides.

“From an engineering point of view, of course there is a lot of advantage. That information can be shared, like sensors that can be deployed in both countries because we have the same enemies,” said Moshe Patel, the head of missile defense Organization that is part of the Defense Ministry.

Although Patel said the United States would have to first approve if any cooperation involved systems that include U.S. proprietary technology, Gulf countries have previously talked to Israel about obtaining missile defense systems.

In October, sources told Israel’s Globes business newspaper that several Gulf states were interested in buying electronic missile defense systems from Israel, as well as actual military hardware to defend oil installations against missile attack. Those contacts came following several attacks by Houthi rebels in Yemen and missile attacks on ships in the Persian Gulf.

Israeli military technology is famous for its Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, which has a proven success record in shooting down incoming rockets. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, two countries repeatedly threatened by Iran, are the prime customers, but there is most likely interest from Saudi Arabia as well.

A suspected Iranian missile attack on Saudi Arabian oil installations in September 2019 knocked out half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production capacity for several days, Globes reported, adding that repeated attacks on oil facilities “played no small part in pushing the Gulf states towards rapprochement with Israel and in their desire for an official alliance against the common enemy, Iran.”

“Since we have the same enemies, maybe we are going to have some mutual interests. I think that there is a potential to enlarge our defense partnership in the future,” Patel told Defense News last month regarding cooperation with the Arab countries.