A shipment of 100,000 coronavirus test kits delivered to Israel earlier this year by the Mossad spy agency from an undisclosed country, as the pandemic began building speed in the Jewish state, came from the United Arab Emirates, the Ynet news site reported Thursday.
The report did not provide sources for the claim, saying only that the revelation was made possible by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly announcing medical cooperation between Israel and the UAE on Thursday.
The report said the March delivery was made on a direct flight from Abu Dhabi to Israel. It said the contacts that made the delivery possible were the same ones that had now ripened to allow public cooperation between the nations.
At the time, Channel 13 news reported that the kits came from a country that did not have diplomatic ties with Israel.
The Prime Minister’s Office confirmed the Mossad operation at the time, but gave no details on the source country or how the kits were acquired.
The delivery, at a time when authorities were struggling with supplies for mass testing, caused a minor controversy in Israel, with Health Ministry deputy director-general Itamar Grotto initially saying the kits did not contain the items health officials were missing.
But the ministry quickly walked back his statement, saying the kits were “important” and “necessary” and thanking the Mossad for its work.
The spy agency said at the time: “The Mossad brought what it was asked. The Mossad will clarify the needs with the Health Ministry. The clandestine channel is open and will continue to be used to bring in what is needed.”
Several days later, another Mossad delivery of 400,000 kits arrived from an undisclosed country. It is not known whether the UAE was the source of that delivery as well.
Two months later, two direct flights by the UAE’s Etihad airline made history by arriving at Ben Gurion Airport — the first plane had no markings on it, while the second bore the company’s livery. Both carried medical aid supplies for the Palestinian Authority, though Ramallah rejected the aid, citing concern over normalization of relations between the Gulf state and Israel.
On Thursday Netanyahu said the health ministers of the UAE and Israel “will imminently announce cooperation in fighting the coronavirus.
“This cooperation will be expressed in research and development [and] technology, in areas that will improve health security throughout the region.”
He said the agreement was “the result of extensive and intensive contacts in recent months, and will bring a blessing to many in our region.”
Channel 12 news reported that Mossad chief Yossi Cohen helped broker the new agreement.