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Rare U.A.E.-to-Israel Flight Carries Virus Aid for Palestinians

Bloomberg logo Bloomberg 5/19/2020 Alisa Odenheimer

(Bloomberg) -- A rare flight from the United Arab Emirates arrived in Israel on Tuesday night, carrying medical equipment to help Palestinians fight the coronavirus pandemic. The landing was confirmed by state-run news agency WAM.

The Etihad Airways plane was scheduled to land shortly before 10 p.m. at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Airports Authority spokesman Ofer Lefler said. While Israel and the UAE don’t have diplomatic relations, ties between them have warmed in recent years, largely over a shared distrust of Iran. Still, there are no publicly known flights between the countries.

The plane carried 14 tons of medical equipment, including “10 ventilators that are acutely needed,” according to a joint statement from the UAE government and the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. The cargo will be handed over to the UN, which will distribute it in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

An Etihad Airways spokesperson confirmed earlier that the plane was transporting medical supplies for the Palestinians. A total of 388 coronavirus cases have been reported in the West Bank and Gaza. Two people have died in the West Bank.

This is the first time an Etihad aircraft will openly land in Israel, Army Radio Middle East editor Jacky Hugi said on Twitter early Tuesday. The Israel Hayom newspaper said the shipment would arrive on an Airbus 330 plane.

(Updates with WAM confirmation of landing in first paragraph.)

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