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Israel 'rejected UK request' for ventilators while PM Johnson was hospitalised for coronavirus

Netanyahu reportedly rejected the request from Israel's ally [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 April, 2020

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly refused a request by Israel's ally to export essential ventilators needed to keep Covid-19 patients alive in the UK.
Israel reportedly refused to export ventilators to its British ally, a report by Axios claimed, amid a deadly outbreak of the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 12,000 in the UK.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the request from UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab despite its mounting death toll from Covid-19.

The request was allegedly made while British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in hospital being treated for the deadly virus, the report added.

Netanyahu had recently issued an emergency decree banning the export of equipment needed to deal with the pandemic in the country, while even ordering Israel’s Mossad spy agency to procure a range of supplies, including face masks and mechanical ventilators required to keep some Covid-19 patients alive.

Read also: Coronavirus video #YouClapForMeNow celebrates UK's 'unappreciated' immigrant workforce as they battle the deadly disease

Raab, who was deputising while Johnson was hospitalised, called for an exemption from the ban but was denied the request from his Israeli ally, Axios reported.

The UK, which has ranked among the worst hit countries across the world, has confirmed 98,476 cases of Covid-19, including 12,868 deaths.

On Tuesday, a Mossad agent admitted stealing face masks and other medical supplies in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, during a television interview with Channel 12's “Fact”.

"The citizens of Israel will have no shortage," the agent, identified only as H., said according to Haaretz. "In the world in general there will be a great shortage. People are dying because of a lack of equipment. In Israel people won't go without."

H. did not elaborate further on what methods the Mossad has used to acquire the equipment.

In early March, the agency set up a command and control centre to handle procurement and distribution of supplies in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence and a military intelligence division, the New York Times reported.

Six current or former officials with knowledge of Mossad's counter-coronavirus operations told the NYT it had "used international contacts" to avert possible shortages of equipment and prevent Israel's healthcare system from being overwhelmed.

The intelligence agency had been able to procure supplies and equipment Israel's own health ministry could not, the six people said on condition of anonymity.

Arab media had earlier reported that Mossad had been involved in obtaining thousands of coronavirus tests from countries with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations. 

Read also: Israeli forces 'steal coronavirus food aid for needy Palestinians, beat aid workers'

As well as bringing in 1.5 million surgical masks, tens of thousands of N-95 masks and other supplies, Mossad has obtained technology and expertise from outside of Israel that will be used to scale up coronavirus testing and boost local production of ventilators and face masks, one high-ranking official said.

Israel has reported more than 12,501 confirmed Covid-19 cases, including 130 deaths.

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