Mossad brings 100,000 incomplete coronavirus test kits to Israel

The kits were provided with consent, the 'Post' confirmed. But a Health Ministry official said, "What they brought is not exactly what we were lacking."

Mossad Logo (photo credit: LOGO)
Mossad Logo
(photo credit: LOGO)
The Mossad brought 100,000 coronavirus test kits to Israel from abroad overnight Wednesday, but according to Health Ministry deputy director-general Itamar Grotto, "unfortunately, what they brought is not exactly what we were lacking."
Grotto The Mossad brought 100,000 coronavirus test kits to Israel from abroad overnight Wednesday. But according to Health Ministry deputy director-general Itamar Grotto, “Unfortunately, what they brought is not exactly what we were lacking.”
There are various components that are involved in the tests, and the Mossad did not bring them all back, he said.
Specifically, the tests were missing a patented liquid into which the testing sticks need to be dipped before a screening can be administered, a Magen David Adom spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post. Without it, the test cannot be done.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “using his connections around the world now” to try to obtain this liquid as early as Friday, the spokesperson said.
The Mossad mission was revealed Thursday by N12 and was independently confirmed by the Post. The report came the same day that the Health Ministry committed to increasing the number of tests conducted daily in Israel to at least 3,000 and soon to as many as 5,000.
Magen David Adom is scheduled to open its first drive-through testing center in Tel Aviv by Sunday. Five more are expected to be opened across the country within a few days.
Thursday morning, the ministry said in a note to the public: “Because the number of examining sites has risen (20 labs) and the number of daily examinations is higher than before (more than 2,200 tests yesterday and the number continues to rise), so gathering and summarizing all the data – including the number of people who tested positive for coronavirus – will take longer.”
“I want to thank the security forces of the State of Israel,” Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov said shortly after the mission ended.
The ministry received the test kits from the Mossad on Thursday, and they were “important and proper kits to use for our coronavirus testing,” he said. “We are continuing work with the Mossad to obtain additional necessary equipment,” which, as MDA said, would make using the tests possible, he added.
“We are at war,” Bar Siman Tov said. “During war, we must combine forces with everyone to win.”
The Prime Minister’s Office said: “The equipment that came to Israel is necessary and essential.”
The Mossad searched for test kits wherever possible and procured the 100,000 from two different countries, Ynet reported. Later, Al Jazeera quoted a source at Reuters who said the kits came “from one of the Gulf states” that do not recognize Israel “but coordinates with it at low level on issues related to security challenges in the region, such as Iran.”
In the last few years, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have had some contact with Israel, although ties have not been formalized.
While the original report was ambiguous about whether the Mossad had taken the test kits without permission or had obtained them by consent, the Post confirmed that the kits were provided with consent.
Part of the reason for the Mossad’s involvement in obtaining the kits was that some of the countries involved do not have diplomatic relations with Israel or have other complex reasons for wanting to sell the kits under the radar.
The Post confirmed that the Mossad’s cybersecurity team is also assisting the Health Ministry in writing special software that will be used to deal with the virus.  
“This is an unusual event in which the country’s intelligence and other security agencies are working together and mobilizing to assist efforts to curb the spread of the virus,” N12 wrote in its report.
Beyond the Mossad, the Defense Ministry has been stepping up efforts to support the fight against the coronavirus. Defense Minister Naftali Bennett orchestrated the opening of two “coronavirus hotels” – one in Jerusalem and one in Tel Aviv – for people who have mild cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. In addition, he authorized the mobilization of 2,500 IDF reservists to help deal with the continued spread of the deadly virus.
The Mossad is uniquely equipped to carry out rapid global operations efficiently, tossing out all of the red tape that other agencies must cope with. The agency has been used in the past to bring to Israel large groups of Jews who are in danger throughout the world in miraculously short periods of time.
Additional Mossad operations are expected soon to bring up to four million test kits to Israel, the Post has learned.