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Medical Aid Sent by UAE to Occupied Palestine is Still Sitting On Ground at Ben Gurion Airport

Medical Aid Sent by UAE to Occupied Palestine is Still Sitting On Ground at Ben Gurion Airport

Fourteen tonnes of medical aid, including 10 “urgently needed” ventilators, which were donated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for use by the Palestinian’s in their fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is still sat on the ground at Ben Gurion airport in Israel a week after it was sent from Abu Dhabi. The medical shipment marked a historic moment as the first-ever direct commercial flight between the UAE and Israel.

Etihad Airways despatched an all-white Airbus A330 without any obvious markings to distinguish where it came from last Tuesday in what is believed to be the first-ever direct flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv. There are no formal diplomatic relations between the two countries and special flights operated in the past had to make a stopover in a neutral third country.

Photo Credit: WAM

But a week after completing this specially chartered flight, the medical equipment is still sat in a warehouse on the edge of Ben Gurion International Airport. There are claims the Palestinian Authorities (PA) refused to accept the aid, saying the historic flight was being used as a “tool for normalization” between the UAE and Israel.

Last week, a spokesperson for the UAE government said it had arranged the aid shipment, which also includes desperately needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks and disposable gowns, in coordination with the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO). The fact that the UAE didn’t directly coordinate the shipment with the Palestinians showed it was simply a “pretext” to improve relations with Jeruselum claimed the PA.

The United Nations says it is trying to find a way to distribute the aid shipment and is planning on moving it to a holding facility in Ashdod which is halfway between Tel Aviv and the Gaza Strip.

A spokesperson for the UN told local media that the delay was down to the aid needing to clear customs checks and that there was a backlog of aid waiting to be checked. An official quoted by the Times of Israel said there had been a “misunderstanding” between the UAE and Palestinian officials and that the equipment should be distributed in the next few days.

UN Special Coordinator for UNSCO, Nickolay Mladenov thanked the UAE for the shipment and assured that IT would reach the most vulnerable.

There are no official diplomatic ties between the UAE and Israel but there are ongoing but low-key efforts to build relations between the two countries. Along with last Tuesday’s historic first flight, there is said to be a virtual Israeli embassy in the UAE and a secret synagogue in Dubai is openly tolerated by authorities.

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