A senior medical procurement officer claims that last week, about 160 respirators were brought to Israel from abroad. He said that at the same time, the production of respirators in Israel accelerated and two new production lines were added, so that every week several tens of respirators are added in Israel. "We will meet the target of 7,000 respirators," he concluded. In the background, the Ministry of Defense announced that in the coming days, 11 Israeli aircraft will complete an air train of equipment from China.
The amount of respirators is of significant importance in case the number of respirators reaches the thousands. Two weeks ago, Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar revealed a good sign that only 2,864 respirators are available to the health system, including those in the IDF.
At the same point, he estimated that within a few weeks, there would be 5,000 hospitalized patients in dire need of artificial respiration. As of this afternoon, 127 patients are in serious condition, of whom 106 are respirators.
The Medical Procurement Brigade was established two weeks ago, headed by the institution's head Yossi Cohen and the Director General of the Ministry of Defense Udi Adam. Its purpose is to supplement the missing in the medical equipment needed to deal with the corona epidemic.
Military officials say that "Mossad people are unconsciously buying medical equipment around the world and flying it to Israel." So far, millions of masks, protective clothing and goggles have been brought to Israel, as well as hundreds of thousands of corona test kits and fashions.
Some of the equipment was brought from countries that do not have links with Israel. In several cases, the IDF brought corona tests to Israel that did not fit the Midrash, causing the exchange of allegations between the Ministry of Health and the IDF.
In recent days, an air train of equipment has been launched from China in a joint operation by the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Defense, El Al and ICL. Yesterday, an "Israir" plane is expected to return in the coming days packed with equipment. Today, El Al's Dreamliner (787) plane took off from Beijing Airport on its way to Israel carrying over 900,000 surgical masks, half a million protective suits for medical teams and other essential equipment. According to the Ministry of Defense, the air train will include 10 more aircraft in the coming days.
At the time of take-off, little drama was happening behind the scenes: the release of procurement from China was delayed but the local government responded to the request of Israeli ambassador Zvi Hafetz and allowed the goods to be taken out when the plane took off.
Foreign Minister Israel Katz said: "The Foreign Ministry, with all its representative offices in the world, is working to obtain the necessary medical equipment to deal with the Corona. These efforts bear fruit today in the arrival of the equipment so necessary to save the lives of many Israelis and to assist medical teams in the country."
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said: "I thank the defense ministers, El Al and ICL, whom we sent to the edge of the world to bring life-saving equipment here. We continue to work with all our strengths and all the ways we have, both locally and internationally."
The equipment for the state was purchased by Israel Chemicals Company (ICL), which has since the beginning of the crisis become a procurement arm for the state. The company uses its relationships with the provincial managers of its factories in China to obtain the required medical equipment and to operate the logistical system involved in locating and purchasing.
At Ben Gurion Airport landed Friday an El Al plane from Melbourne, which returned more than 200 Israelis to Israel. The flight lasted more than seventeen hours and the Dreamliner flew eight pilots that changed every few hours. All passengers will be transported for a dedicated two-week isolation. This is the longest and most complex flight in the history of the company, and it cost passengers $ 2,480.
EL AL crews were not allowed to enter Australia and rest after the flight, which meant that all crews spent nearly 40 hours on the plane and required several flight attendants and pilots to operate the complex flight. Just recently, El Al broke its longest flight record when it returned more than a thousand Israelis from Peru.
Last week, El Al first operated a flight to Australia, but to Perth, which is much closer to Israel. Melbourne is at the far end, which requires a few more hours of flight to cross Australia. The flight is expected to have about three hundred Israelis, many of whom live in Australia, but as a result choose to return to Israel.
El Al was scheduled to fly to Australia in April as part of a regular state line. Travelers who have already purchased tickets for this flight will be able to convert them and return to the country on an El Al flight departing this Thursday at 10pm from Melbourne.
One of the biggest challenges for EL AL is that it is a plane full of passengers and their equipment that is supposed to go the longest distance an EL AL plane and an Israeli aircraft ever travel. All crew members, a few dozen in number, are currently unclear exactly how many, will have to move the entire flight back and forth without getting off the plane, a very big challenge for EL AL personnel.
Another interesting fact is that the person who asked Al to take the flight is Foreign Minister Israel Katz. Katz is reportedly one of the candidates for the next Knesset as Finance Minister. If that happens, it will be the one that determines the future of Israeli aviation and will decide whether there will be government support for El Al, Arkia and Ishir.