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Israel apologises to UAE for official's Covid 'joke'

Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on January 29, 2021
Photo: Reuters

Officials said Dr Alroy-Preis' comment was merely "an unsuccessful joke" that was not meant for public consumption.

Israel is said to have extended an apology to the UAE for a comment made by a senior official, who blamed a surge in virus cases in the country on people returning from Dubai.

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According to an Israeli channel, Dr Sharon Alroy-Preis, chief of Public Health in the Health Ministry, allegedly said that "more people died in two weeks of peace with Dubai than in 70 years of war with them".

Israel’s national daily YNet stated that when an explanation about the remarks was sought by UAE officials, Israeli officials apologised for Dr Alroy-Preis' statement, saying the remark was made in jest.

Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office apologised for Alroy-Preis’ comments, adding that her comment was merely “an unsuccessful joke” that was not meant for public consumption and she is not authorised to speak for the Israeli government on such matters.

Tweeting about the same, the Dubai Media Office on Friday shared the apology from Israel posted by YNET, stating: “Israel offers an apology to the UAE for the statements of a senior official in the Israeli Ministry of Health that included false allegations that linked travel to Dubai to the increasing number of people infected with Covid-19 in Israel.”

Thousands of Israelis are said to have made their way to the UAE ever since the two countries normalised ties and began flight operations in November 2020.

However, noticing a surge in cases from the beginning of this year, Israel on Monday night closed down its Ben Gurion Airport until the end of January.

The airport closure will remain in effect at least until this coming Sunday, when national lockdown measures are set to be eased, though the government is expected to extend both closures.

A British variant of the coronavirus is said to be causing widespread infections in Israel, accounting for nearly half of recent daily cases, according to health officials. Thirty cases of a South African strain have also been found in the country, in addition to four cases of a California mutation.

According to The Jerusalem Post, Israel recorded 7,079 positive Covid cases on Thursday. Out of the 76,000 people screened, 9.3 per cent tested positive.

The Israeli government has set a goal of vaccinating the entire adult eligible population over the age of 16 by the end of March.





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