Pitching for further strengthening of relations, Israel on Monday said the supply of advanced medical equipment to India was the reciprocation of the help extended to it by the South Asian country to tackle the coronavirus crisis.
India had on April 7 sent to Israel medical equipment and five tonnes of medicines, including hydroxychloroquine, which was earlier dubbed as a game changer in the fight against coronavirus.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had reached out to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi with a special request for the supplies. A special flight carrying researchers, defence experts and advanced medical equipment from Israel landed India on Monday.
The Israeli team will join hands with researchers in India to develop a rapid testing solution for COVID-19. Reacting to it, Deputy Director General for Asia and the Pacific at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gilad Cohen, wrote in a blog for Times of Israel that the unprecedented global pandemic has provided an opportunity for both countries to "assist each and further enhance their relations".
"Israel's exceptional gesture today was a welcome 'thank you' to India, which, just a few months ago, sent medicines and other essential diagnostic equipment," Cohen wrote, adding that his country "went out of its way" to approve the export and transfer of sophisticated ventilators to India.
"In this way, Israel and India successfully transformed this unprecedented global pandemic into an opportunity to assist one another and further enhance their relations," he asserted.
Pointing out the improvement in the Indo-Israel relations over the past several years, the diplomat said it's hard to believe that just three decades ago, Indian passports were valid "for every country except Israel".
Cohen in his blog also highlighted the growth in the bilateral trade, which was just US dollar 200 million in 1992, when the diplomatic relations were established between both countries.
Cohen also hailed the leadership of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the country is emerging as a regional and global power under him.
"Under the leadership of Narendra Modi, India is assuming its role as a regional and world power and our diplomacy has succeeded in showing India the many advantages that can come from strengthening its ties with Israel", Cohen said.
"The Foreign Ministry is determined to continue cultivating its ties with the second largest country in the world to ensure that our relations with India continue to thrive into the future", he concluded. The Israeli team, comprising 20 experts from various fields, will help development diagnostic technologies.
It is being led by Israel's Ambassador to India Ron Malka and Defence Attach Col Assaf Meller. The team also includes Prof Nati Keller, an infectious diseases specialist from Sheba Medical Center; and Itai Gordon, head of the Innovation Department at the Israel's Ministry of Health.
The delegation includes engineers and other professionals from the companies involved in the development of various diagnostic solutions. "What they all have in common is the ability to detect the presence of the virus in the body quickly--usually within minutes," a statement from the Israeli Defence Ministry said on Thursday.
"Developing diagnostic capabilities is a goal for the State of Israel and of many additional countries around the world. It is the most effective way to cut off chains of infection, prevent prolonged quarantine and enable the reopening of the global economy," it said.
On Friday, Israel's Alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Defence, Benny Gantz, had talked to Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, expressing hope that the strong bilateral ties between the two countries will contribute significantly to the global efforts in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I was glad to speak this morning (Friday) with Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh about the excellent defence cooperation enjoyed by our two countries and our shared aspirations for stability and calm in our regions", Gantz told PTI.
"I told him that I welcome the promotion of bilateral partnership, even in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, and that I am sure that the Israeli delegation arriving in India next week will contribute significantly to global efforts to combat it," he had said.