07:29 GMT12 July 2020
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    The Israeli intelligence service has received flak over its clandestine operations to procure medical equipment to fight the pandemic amid speculation that its activities, including the alleged theft of supplies, may have weakened the COVID-19 response of other nations.

    Israel’s Ynet News has revealed the impressive extent of Mossad’s clandestine operation to secure medical supplies to shore up the country’s coronavirus response capabilities, citing an internal agency report.

    The supplies procured thus far are said to include 80 million surgical masks, 1,300 ventilators (with 4,700 more on the way), 180 million pairs of protective gloves, 2.5 million pairs of protective goggles, nearly 30 million tonnes of disinfectants, 1.3 million type N-95 face masks, four million protective suits and roughly two million coronavirus test kits. On top of that are hundreds of millions of doses of drugs aimed at helping coronavirus-stricken patients, including everything from insulin to anaesthetics.

    Ynet did not clarify where or how the supplies were obtained, and whether this included intercepting or diverting supplies destined for other nations, a tactic several other countries including the United States have recently been accused of using.

    However, in a ceremony Tuesday which saw the coronavirus control centre transferred from the Mossad to the Health Ministry, spy agency chief Yossi Cohen boasted that his agents were able to bring “the spirit of the Mossad” into daily operations aimed at curbing the threat posed by the coronavirus despite a lack of “any medical expertise”.

    According to Ynet, some of the medical equipment was sourced from unnamed Persian Gulf countries, with Mossad using ‘personal connections’ to get it. The Mossad’s activities have been praised in some corners, but have also received flak over the alleged theft of some of the supplies. Last month, the unidentified chief of Mossad’s technology division confirmed to Haaretz that the agency had stolen some of the equipment, “but only a little.”

    On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the Mossad for its “excellent” work, saying “the results speak for themselves” and that Cohen’s agency has “done something extraordinary”.

    With 16,700+ confirmed cases and 281 coronavirus-related fatalities to date, Israel has managed to keep its infection/fatalities among the lowest in the developed world, registering the equivalent of just 31.63 deaths per million, which is far below that of most European nations (as high as 817.19 per million in Belgium), or the United States (301.95 per million).

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