As nations scrambled to obtain desperately needed medical equipment, Israel quietly coordinated a massive 150 medical cargo flights operation, involving El Al and Israel’s fabled Mossad intelligence agency, to scour the globe for much needed drugs, ventilators, protective clothing, and test kits.
Huge El Al Dreamliners were converted into cargo planes as part of Israel’s emergency measures. Israir Airlines also sent planes to the Far East including to Shenzhen for medical supplies, and to bring stranded Israelis back from Vietnam.
Thanks to these efforts, Israel was quick off the mark and ahead of the field which helped keep the nation's damage rate remarkably low.
Part of the incoming medical equipment was send into Palestinian controlled areas, including into Gaza, through the coordination of the Israel and Palestinian Health Ministries.
On May 19, an unmarked Etihad Airlines plane landed at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport, making it the inaugural flight from the United Arab Emirates to Israel, to bring medical supplies for the Palestinian Authority.
In a survey carried out by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion in March, the majority of Palestinian Arabs polled (68%) said they were satisfied by the coordination between Israel and the PA to prevent the spread of the virus in Palestinian-controlled areas.
Despite Israel’s coordination with the Palestinian to reduce the spread of the virus, in April the official PA spokesman was corona-washing Israel by accusing the Jewish State of spreading the disease among the Palestinians.
By May, COGAT, the Israeli Unit for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, had been assisting the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian medical personnel in stopping the spread of the virus in territory under Palestinian civilian control.
Then, when news came through that the United Arab Emirates had sent a cargo plane with essential equipment for the Palestinian Authority to Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport, Mahmoud Abbas began to rant against accepting anything from Israel.
By the time the unmarked Etihad plane landed in Israel, the Palestinian Authority was in full-throttle rejectionist mode. 14 tons of medical equipment flown in specifically for Palestinian needs stood on the tarmac as the PA objected to the “normalization of ties” between the Arab world and Israel.
This was a United Nations coordinated flight of urgent medical supplies. As the UN Special Coordinator, Nikolai Mladenov, said, “The aid includes personal protective equipment and medical equipment. Most notable, it includes ten ventilators that are acutely needed.”
Yet, as other nations are in desperate need of such equipment, the Palestinian Authority have put their political agenda ahead of the health and safety of their own people.
At the outbreak of the pandemic Israel acted rapidly and nimbly to scour the globe for essential supplies of medical equipment. Pride had no preference over the health of its citizens. The health of its citizens, the medical necessities of its people, were paramount. Even the economy was put on lockdown along with the population.
The Israeli Government went to extraordinary and expensive lengths to obtain the material without which the battle against the virus could not have been won. Israel was prepared to approach avowed enemies and dictators for the greater good of its people. Politics were put aside for the physical protection of its population.
Not so the Palestinian leadership.
The Palestinian leadership has developed a history of jeopardizing its own people’s health for political and ideological machinations against the Jewish State.
In June 2010, after a failed Gaza flotilla charade, Israel attempted to deliver medical aid and other items from the impounded boats to the people of Gaza via the official route between Ashdod port and the Gaza Strip. But Hamas refused to accept the Israeli delivery at the Gaza crossing point.
In July 2014, Israel prepared to send millions of shekels’ worth of medicines, chemotherapy and medical equipment, even blood donations to Gaza but the Palestinian Authority refused to accept it over its feud with Hamas.
In May 2018, it was Hamas’s turn to reject medical aid from Israel when it rejected shipments of medical supplies for Gaza hospitals. Eight trucks entered Gaza via the Kerem Shalom Crossing with items from the Palestinian Authority, two trucks had supplies from the UN, and two were donated by the IDF Technological & Logistics Directorate. The IDF convoy included fuel for the hospital generators, disinfectants, bandages, IV fluids, beds, hospital gowns and pediatric equipment. Hamas rejected the IDF donations saying they were not prepared to accept medicine “from the murderers of our people.”
In May 2019, Jason Greenblatt, then President Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, when questioned why the United States had stopped funding Palestinian hospitals, replied, “"The PA incurred bills @ the hospital & assumed someone else would pay. We want those patients to receive the best care, the PA could easily pay its own bills to the hospital by ending incentive payments to terrorists/their families & use the $ to care for their people,” referring to the Palestinian Authority “Pay to Slay” policy of rewarding their dead or imprisoned terrorists.
The politicization of medical aid to the Palestinians was covered In a detailed research paper by NGO-Monitor back in March 2015.
It began way before 2015. It continues today. The evidence shows a decades old weaponization of the medical needs of their people against Israel. And the people suffering the most are those living under the anti-normalization boots of both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
Barry Shaw, Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.