Tons of medical equipment donated by Israel arrived on Friday in India where the health system is collapsing under a wave of resurgent coronavirus infections.
The Indian Air Force plane that took off from Ben Gurion Airport was the second transport of the week, with further shipments to be sent in the coming days.
“The operation to bring medical aid to India is in full swing,” tweeted Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. “We stand by India in these difficult times just as India stood by us in the first weeks of the coronavirus crisis when they facilitated the arrival of vital medical equipment to Israel.”
The Foreign Ministry said Monday the shipments will include hundreds of oxygen generators and ventilators, as well as other medical equipment urgently needed by India.
Several ministries and other government bodies, including the Israeli and Indian embassies in each country, were involved in setting up the operation, the ministry said.
Last week the Kan public broadcaster reported that an unofficial request for medical equipment, including oxygen supplies and various drugs, was made to the Israeli embassy in India.
Israel and India have cooperated in the past on the coronavirus and last April, the New Delhi government reportedly sent Israel five tons of the drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, which are used to treat malaria. At the time, the drugs were being reviewed in various countries as a possible treatment for the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi have close personal relations in addition to the ties between the two nations.
Modi is facing growing pressure to impose a strict nationwide lockdown, despite the economic pain it will exact, as a startling surge in coronavirus cases that has pummeled the country’s health system shows no signs of abating.
Modi has so far left the responsibility for fighting the virus in this current surge to poorly equipped state governments and faced accusations of doing too little. His government has countered that it is doing everything it can, amid a “once-in-a-century crisis.”
On Friday India reported a new daily record of 414,188 confirmed cases and 3,915 additional deaths. The official daily death count has stayed over 3,000 for the past 10 days.
That brings the total to more than 21.4 million COVID-19 infections and over 234,000 deaths. Experts say even those dramatic tolls are undercounts.
Associated Press contributed to this report.