Morocco, which normalized diplomatic relations with Israel in December 2020, reportedly wants to buy the Jewish state’s Iron Dome missile-defense system, according to the Moroccan French-language news site, Le Desk.
The Iron Dome is considered the world’s most advanced short-range anti-missile system and is manufactured by an Israeli company, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, with significant U.S. funding. During the war with Hamas in May, the Iron Dome successfully shot down approximately 90% of all incoming missiles from the Gaza Strip that were aimed at Israeli cities.
According to the report, the Iron Dome system “would ensure the better defense of the sand wall in the Sahara, but also of civil and military zones of a sensitive nature.”
In the 1980’s, Morocco built a 2,700-kilometer wall (1,677 miles) across its border with Western Sahara to defend the country against the Algerian-supported Polisario militia that is fighting for political independence in Western Sahara.
As part of the normalization agreement with the Jewish state, the former Trump administration recognized Morocco’s claim to the disputed West Sahara territory. While much of the world still disputes Morocco’s territorial claim, the Moroccan King Mohammed VI has declared that the sovereignty over Western Sahara is “not negotiable.”
Morocco’s interest in the Iron Dome system is linked to a recent increase in tensions between Morocco and Algeria. In August, Algeria cut diplomatic relations with Morocco due to alleged “hostile actions.” While Algeria continues backing the Polisario militia in West Sahara, Morocco objects to what it perceives as Algerian interference in Morocco’s domestic affairs.
Israel is currently the only country in the world with operational Iron Dome systems. The U.S. military recently deployed two Iron Dome batteries to the island of Guam in the Pacific for future use.
Despite Morocco’s interest in the anti-missile system, unnamed sources told The Jerusalem Post it was “unlikely at this time” that the Jewish state would approve the sale for unspecified reasons. So far, neither Israel’s Defense Ministry nor the Rafael defense company have issued any comments on the Moroccan report.
While the two countries only formalized their bilateral ties at the end of 2020, Morocco and Israel have enjoyed close relations for decades. In August, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid was warmly received in Morocco where he inaugurated the Israeli embassy in Rabat. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz is scheduled to visit Morocco in the coming months, The Jerusalem Post reported. Gantz is expected to sign several defense-related deals with the North African country. The two countries are reportedly working together on a drone-manufacturing project designed to strengthen Morocco’s air power capabilities, according to Defense News magazine.
In a further sign of close ties between Rabat and Jerusalem, Morocco received three advanced Israeli-produced HERON reconnaissance UAVs in early 2020 in a deal reportedly amounting to $48 million. The UAVs had previously been deployed by the French Air Force in Afghanistan and are now expected to bolster Morocco’s capabilities against Islamist terrorists and militias in Western Sahara.
In addition, a Moroccan Air Force Hercules transport plane participated in a military drill in the Jewish state in July.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.