Saudi Arabia reportedly purchases Iron Dome missile system, Israel denies
Saudi Arabia has purchased the Iron Dome missile defense system from Israel to defend itself from missile attacks by Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Emirati news website Al-Khaleej reported on Thursday.
Reportedly, the deal was mediated by the United States, which included further plans to reach an agreement on broad military cooperation between the two countries.
Al-Khaleej Online mentioned that a "high-level diplomatic source" told the news outlet that at first Israel refused to sell the Iron Dome to an Arab nation; following US interventions and additional guarantees of not posing security danger to Israel and the region, the deal was reached.
However, the Israeli Defense Ministry responded to the report and denied the claims of an Iron Dome deal with Saudi Arabia, Ynet re ported Thursday.
Saudi Arabia's Prince Mohammed bin Salman caused an uproar earlier this year when he recognized Israel's right to exist, leaving open a possibility of cooperation.
The kingdom reportedly sought to purchase the defense system in January, the Swiss paper Basler Zeitung reported then.
âBoth want to hold back the regional ambitions of Iran,â wrote the Swiss paperâs journalist Pierre Heumann, who is based in Tel Aviv, in the article on Saudi-Israeli military ties.
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Iranâs proxy â" the Houthis â" have launched ballistic missiles at Saudi Arabiaâs capital, airport and at the kingâs residence. Saudi Arabia and the United States accuse Iranâs regime of arming the Houthis with missiles and military aid to destabilize the region.
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which produces the Iron Dome system, has repeatedly denied reports of the sale.
Benjamin Weinthal c ontributed to this report.
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