Large airlift from China to Israel to fight coronavirus

11 aircraft airlift will deliver millions of items of essential equipment from China to Israel: masks, protective gear, ventilators & more

Yoni Kempinski ,

Special airlift
Special airlift
Defense Ministry

The Directorate of Production and Procurement (DOPP) in the Israel Ministry of Defense (IMoD), conducted a procurement operation with the assistance of ICL corporate and its representatives in China, to supply medical equipment to Israeli hospitals in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), and the Israeli Embassy in China, played an essential role and acquired additional equipment via donors.

Upon the completion of preparations over a period of two weeks, including procurement agreements, diplomatic efforts and logistical arrangements, an airlift of essential medical equipment is taking off from China and will be on its way to Israel. El Al's Dreamliner (787) aircraft is currently taking off from Shanghai Airport, carrying over 900,000 surgical masks, half a million protective suits for medical teams, and additional critical equipment. This essential equipment was acquired by the Ministry of Defense with the assistance of the ICL company and its representatives in China, in accordance with the requirements outlined by the Ministry of Health. Additional equipment, including ventilators, will be delivered to Israel in the coming days, as a result of the efforts led by the MFA and the Israeli embassy in China.

The DOPP in IMoD recruited El Al to operate the airlift. The company has adapted 11 Dreamliner aircraft to carry cargo for this purpose. The first flight recently took off from China, and will land at Ben Gurion airport tomorrow (06/04/2020), morning. El Al will operate two flights per day for a period of approximately one week, until the operation is completed.

The extensive diplomatic efforts of the Minsitry of Foreign Affairs, led by the Israeli Ambassador to China, Zvi Hefetz and the Shanghai Consultate, enabled this complicated operation.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said: "I would like to thank the people of the Ministry of Defense and El Al, whom we have sent to the other side of the world in order to bring life-saving equipment to Israel. We are continuing to operate in full force, assessing every avenue in both local production and in the international arena. The Ministry of Defense and the IDF are continuing to work 24/7 in order to complete every necessary mission, as part of the national effort against Corona.”

Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz stated: "Under my guidance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is working tirelessly through its offices around the world, to obtain the necessary medical equipment to handle the Corona crisis. We will see that our efforts bore fruit once the life-saving equipment lands in Israel and is delivered to medical teams across the country.”

El Al CEO Gonen Usishkin added: "While ensuring Israel’s ‘connection to the world by air, ’El Al considers the delivery of essential equipment to Israel as both an obligation and a privilege.”

Deputy Director of the DOPP, Shai Halperin, said: "Operating an airlift of essential equipment for the State of Israel is one of the key missions of the Ministry of Defense during times of emergency. We hope that within a few days we will contribute to the readiness of the State of Israel to handle the Corona crisis. This operation would not have been possible without the efforts of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Israeli Embassy to China, El Al, and ICL, and this is a great opportunity to thank them for their contribution.”

CEO of ICL Corporate, Raviv Zoller said: "ICL is first and foremost an Israeli company, and in times of emergency we are proud to invest our resources for the benefit of the state and to participate and assist in any way possible in the national effort against the Corona virus. We have leveraged the excellent relations that we have developed in various regions in China, where we manage our factories. These relations enabled us to procure essential equipment, which is expected to arrive in Israel in the coming days. We will continue to assist in any way possible for the benefit of the State of Israel.”