The first aid delivery plane landed in Israel on 19th May
Jerusalem: An Etihad Airways cargo plane landed for the second time in Israel on Tuesday, carrying medical aid to help the Palestinians tackle the corona virus pandemic: officials confirmed. Except Egypt and Jordan, no Arab countries have any diplomatic relations with Israel. But Arab nations have had ever more publicly warm ties with Israel of late, partly over shared rivalry with Iran.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner which arrived at Ben Gurion Airport bore the airline’s logo and the Emirati flag – the first time a flight to Israel had carried the UAE national carrier’s livery. Many countries point out that this shows Arab normalization of ties with Israel. In mid-May, the United Arab Emirates flew its first publicly announced flight to Israel, also an Etihad flight carrying pandemic time aid for the Palestinians. But Tuesday flight was the first one to bear UAE flag on its plane.
Israel’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that the aid would be transferred to Gaza and the Palestinian Authority by the UN and COGAT, Israel’s military body in the occupied West Bank. Israel also confirmed that the plane’s arrival was informed to them, well earlier.
However, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Tuesday, he was unaware of the aid delivery, casting doubts over whether the government would accept the aid delivery. The Palestinians have no airports, with aid usually arriving via Jordan, Egypt or Israel. They rejected the previous shipment of medical supplies for corona virus on 19 May, saying it had not been coordinated with them. “If any country, whether Arab or European or any international country wants to help us, we welcome that. We don’t say no – as long as it is not conditional and as long as it is fully coordinated with us,” Shtayyeh said at the time.
He voiced appreciation for the aid, but said the delivery should have been coordinated. “When China decides to help us, they coordinate with us, when any country in the world is extending its assistance, they tell us,” he told foreign journalists in Ramallah.
Meanwhile an Emirate official reported that they had intimated the aid arrival with UN. “The UAE’s only concern is to support the Palestinian people through this challenging period, in line with its historic support,” the ministry said in a statement. Altogether, the two flights have carried approximately 16 tonnes of material, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and around 15 ventilators, in response to an appeal led by the UN for Palestinians in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, as per reports from an anonymous UN officer. According to this official, UN plans to distribute the shipments to the neediest Palestinians and mostly to the Gaza strip, where needs are quite larger there, with weak health infrastructure.