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Did Trump give Israel 1 million face masks despite coronavirus equipment shortages in the US?

Donald Trump has been accused of putting 'Israel first' [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 April, 2020

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An Israeli press report claiming the US Department of Defense shipped one million face masks to Israel have angered Americans, causing some to question the Trump administration's priorities
An Israeli press report claiming the US Department of Defense had shipped one million face masks to Israel to help protect Israeli soldiers has angered Americans, causing some to question the Trump administration's priorities amid the coronavirus pandemic amid reports of shortages of protective equipment for US health workers.

The Pentagon's alleged shipment was initially reported by the Jerusalem Post, however mention of American involvement was later scrubbed, raising suspicions that US public anger may have forced Israeli military censors to act.

Israel's army is notorious for tightly monitoring media output, having barred or redacted over 2,000 stories just last year, according to the Movement for Freedom of Information.

"US Department of Defense give 1 million masks to IDF for coronavirus use," read a headline published by the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, referring to the shipment that had arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on Tuesday night.

The original article said: "A plane carrying over a million surgical masks for the IDF landed in Ben-Gurion airport Tuesday night, in an operation run by the US Department of Defense’s Delegation of Procurement".

Curiously, the headline was later revised to: "Israel brings 1 million masks from China for IDF soldiers" but traces of the old headline can be seen in the article's URL.

All mention of the US Department of Defense's alleged involvement also appear to have been removed, with no reason given in the updated article for the revision or official retraction posted.

A yet-to-be-deleted tweet by the Jerusalem Post official account still shows the original introduction (screenshot here).

The New Arab has reached out to the Department of Defense's Defense Logistics Agency for comment but did not receive a response at the time of publication. The DLA on its website says it "provides logistical, acquisition, and technical support for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and other federal agencies and allies."

Israel's spy agency Mossad has been involved in a frantic effort to secure protective gear as Tel Aviv scrambles to respond to a major coronavirus outbreak.

The initial headline mentioning US involvement in the shipment sparked fury on social media, where users highlighted America's own struggles to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

"American hospitals are begging for protective gear, this is sickening," wrote one Twitter user, referring to US medical workers who have complained about reported shortages of protective gear for frontline workers.

Read also: Israel considers sending ventilators to Gaza in exchange for release of soldiers held by Hamas

"While frontline American health workers go without & Palestinians are told to use their socks, Trump ships a million masks to israel's army," wrote another, referring to reports that Palestinian prisoners were told by Israeli authorities to use socks as face masks.

The Trump administration has been praised by Israeli leaders as the friendliest ever to Israel.

The delivery of alleged US supplies to support Israel's military comes just days after a US Navy captain was removed for alleging that the Pentagon had given inadequate attention to a Covid-19 outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier.

Brett Crozier wrote a letter that was leaked to the media describing the virus-struck vessel's dire situation.

Following Crozier's removal, US Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned on Tuesday over his mishandling of the affair and the heavy-handed approach towards the navy captain.

The Crozier affair was just the latest in a string of missteps by the Trump administration amid the coronavirus pandemic, drawing sustained criticism from the American public.

US President Donald Trump initially downplayed the virus, which he likened to an ordinary flu and said was under control in the United States, before later accepting that it was a national emergency.

More than 12,000 Americans have now died from Covid-19.

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