Israel supplied with faulty COVID-19 masks, legal document shows

According to the counterclaim, MGM and TAR committed to providing anti-coronavirus masks meeting specific parameters specified in a public tender bidding process which they won.

 : A woman receives protective face masks while she waits in line at a food bank at St. Bartholomew Church, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Elmhurst section of Queens, New York City, New York, US, May 15, 2020.  (photo credit: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID/FILE PHOTO)
: A woman receives protective face masks while she waits in line at a food bank at St. Bartholomew Church, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Elmhurst section of Queens, New York City, New York, US, May 15, 2020.
(photo credit: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID/FILE PHOTO)

The Defense and Justice ministries (Tel Aviv Civil Division) filed a counterclaim with the Tel Aviv District Court against a supplier for allegedly providing faulty anti-coronavirus masks, demanding around NIS 10 million in compensation.

The counterclaim and answer were filed against the MGM and TAR companies in response to their lawsuits against the Defense Ministry for around NIS 22 million for allegedly violating the payment terms of the contract between the parties.

According to the counterclaim, MGM and TAR committed to providing anti-coronavirus masks meeting specific parameters specified in a public tender bidding process, which they won.

How did the companies provide faulty anti-COVID-19 masks?

MGM allegedly subcontracted out the provision of the masks to a third party, TAR, without the government’s consent and in violation of the terms of the contract.

Once the government inspected the masks being provided to the Defense Ministry, it was clear that they did not provide the level of protection contracted for regarding resisting the coronavirus nor did they fully cover the mouth, the government said.

A face mask is seen on the street in Jerusalem amid the coronavirus pandemic, on February 2, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)A face mask is seen on the street in Jerusalem amid the coronavirus pandemic, on February 2, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

This meant that the ministry could not use these masks for medical workers in corona units in hospitals.

Moreover, the government claimed that using these masks would have endangered the medical staff since they would be coming into closer proximity with corona-infected persons under the misleading impression that their masks would protect them.

Specifically, the ministry noted that MGM had committed to providing the strongly protective N-95 style masks to the government, but then it and TAR shifted to a mask with less robust defensive capabilities.

Breaking down the NIS 9,765,000 counterclaim, the government is suing for a return of NIS 5,265,000 regarding the initial down payment that it already made to MGM and TAR as well as NIS 4,500,000, which represents 20% of the total value of the deal, and was the contract’s agreed-upon penalty for a violation.

The case opened when MGM and TAR sued the Defense Ministry for NIS 22,317,194 for a mix of unreceived payments for masks which were sold as part of the contract as well as storage and disposal costs for the products when the ministry failed to accept the products as required.

The ministry originally ordered the masks in March 2020 at the height of the first corona wave.