PA intelligence secures 10,000 virus testing kits from China
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PA intelligence secures 10,000 virus testing kits from China

Official says Palestinians had been down to a few hundred kits to test for COVID-19 before shipment arrived

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Palestinian health workers handling a coronavirus test sample of Palestinian workers as they cross back from Israel at a checkpoint in Tarqumiya on March 25, 2020. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
Palestinian health workers handling a coronavirus test sample of Palestinian workers as they cross back from Israel at a checkpoint in Tarqumiya on March 25, 2020. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Palestinian Authority General Intelligence Services has brought 10,000 kits to test for coronavirus to the PA Health Ministry, a Palestinian official said on Monday.

The intelligence apparatus led by Majed Faraj, a close confidante of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, arranged for the kits to arrive from China, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

“Before these test kits arrived, we only had hundreds left,” the official told The Times of Israel. “Now, we have a significant amount.”

As of Sunday, Palestinian health authorities have only carried out 5,869 tests on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, according to the PA Health Ministry.

As of Monday, 115 people in the West Bank and Gaza have tested positive for COVID-19, including 18 who recovered and one who died, Palestinian officials said.

Since the outbreak of the virus around the globe, demand for test kits has skyrocketed as countries make efforts to contain the spread of the contagion in their territories.

Health authorities in some parts of Europe reported late last week that test kits received from China by their respective countries were faulty.

Palestinian Authority General Intelligence Services chief Majed Faraj speaking in Hebron, on June 11, 2018. (Screenshot: YouTube/File)

PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said Sunday that China would imminently deliver test kits and several ventilators to the Palestinians, without elaborating on quantities.

“We are undertaking efforts with the whole world to fill our needs in terms of test kits and ventilators,” he said. “Within two days, there will be a plane from China landing in the ’48 lands [Israel], carrying aid for us, our neighbors, Jordan and others.”

Palestinian medical institutions have only 295 ventilators— 175 in the West Bank and 120 in Gaza — a report published by the PA on March 26 said.

PA Health Minister Mai Kaila thanked the General Intelligence Services for the kits, according to the PA Health Ministry.

Palestinian medical employees disinfect Palestinian workers who came back from working in Israel at the entrance to the West Bank village of Hussan, on March 29, 2020, in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The role of the intelligence service in obtaining the kits was not immediately clear, but echoed an Israeli operation by its Mossad intelligence service to help bring 400,000 kits to test to the virus from an undisclosed foreign location, according to Jerusalem.

That was in addition to the roughly 100,000 kits that Prime Minister’s Office said the spy agency brought to Israel earlier in March.

The Mossad’s first operation to bring 100,000 kits to Israel came under criticism after unnamed Health Ministry officials told Channel 13 that they did not include materials that medical authorities needed the most— swabs and test tubes.

The Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, however, later said that the kits were “important” and “necessary” in the fight against the virus.

Israel has looked to ramp up testing to several thousand a day or more. As of Monday evening, 4,695 people in Israel have tested positive for COVID-19, including 161 who have recovered and 16 who died, the Health Ministry said.

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