Subtext | Singapore, Israel, and the Iron Dome
Israel sent 'Gandhi' to establish Singapore's modern army and establish military ties.
Singapore has evolved into one of Israel’s key allies and, has funded the development of some of the IDF’s most advanced weapon systems. Strategic ties and military cooperation between Singapore and Israel date back to 1965.1
Shortly after the largely Chinese Singapore, a former British colony off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, split from the Federation of Malaysia, Singapore's founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, wanted to establish a military to defend it, which has a landmass of only 274 square miles and is ringed by Muslim nations, as is Israel.
He turned to the Jewish state for help and Israel sent a military mission led by Maj. Gen. Rehavam Ze'evi, nicknamed ‘Gandhi’, then deputy head of the military's operations branch. Lee insisted on secrecy because he didn't want to antagonize his Muslim neighbors, Malaysia and Indonesia. The team of Israeli instructors arrived in October 1965 and to disguise their presence, the Singapore government called them 'Mexicans'!2
From the outset, Iron Dome was always intended for Singapore, which helped finance its development. Iron Dome was to be battle-tested in Israel ahead of export to Singapore in conflicts with Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah.3
However, the Israeli Iron Dome missile shield system is a technical success but an export failure.4 And, recent successes by Hamas in inflicting damage and casualties across Israel are likely to dampen the export potential of the Iron Dome.
Katz, Y., Bohbot, A. (2017). The Weapon Wizards: How Israel Became a High-Tech Military Superpower. United States: St. Martin's Publishing Group.
Lee, K. Y. (1998). The Singapore story: memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew.. Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings.