JERUSALEM, March 19 (Reuters). Israeli intelligence agency Mossad has received corona virus test kits for the country, Israeli officials said Thursday.
According to some local media reports, the Mossad transport included 100,000 kits sourced from Arab Gulf states that do not officially recognize Israel but have sought low-level coordination on regional security challenges such as Iran.
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office did not release details, but made a statement that “Mossad and other authorities” had brought “essential and vital equipment” from abroad to help with the coronavirus crisis.
Regardless, the Director General of the Ministry of Health thanked the Mossad for providing “important and functional kits” – a phrase that may have been aimed at dispelling media speculation that the equipment could prove defective.
The official, Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, also thanked the Israeli security agency Shin Bet for his role in the procurement effort. The Shin Bet was reviewed after Netanyahu approved the use of its anti-terrorism mobile phone tracking technology to map possible viral infections.
The Mossad test kit mission was apparently so secret that even Israel’s Minister of Intelligence was kept in the dark.
“I became as aware of this report as you were,” Minister Israel Katz said in a live interview with Army Radio.
Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel intends to run 3,000 coronavirus tests daily, which will increase to 10,000 a day within two weeks.
Israel has had 529 confirmed cases of coronavirus, 279 of which have been hospitalized. No deaths were reported. (Letter from Dan Williams editing by Jeffrey Heller / Mark Heinrich)