Israel apologizes for ‘unsuccessful joke’ blaming UAE for surge in corona deaths

“More people died in two weeks of peace with Dubai than in 70 years of war with them,” a senior health official quipped.

By World Israel News Staff

Israel has apologized to the United Arab Emirates for comments by a senior health official blaming the rise in COVID-19 cases on the fact that so many Israelis have visited Dubai since the signing of the Abraham Accords.

Dr. Sharon Alroy-Preis, the health ministry’s head of Public Health, said that “more people died in two weeks of peace with Dubai than in 70 years of war with them,” Israel’s Channel 13 reported.

The comments reportedly angered the UAE, prompting an apology Thursday from the Prime Minister’s Office, which described Alroy-Preis’s offensive comment as “an unsuccessful joke” that does not reflect the position of the Israeli government.

Health officials last week identified several Israelis who arrived from abroad infected with the mutated coronavirus that is rapidly spreading, as well as some cases with the highly contagious South African mutation of the virus.

Israel’s government agreed on Sunday to stop flights to and from Ben Gurion Airport.

“We are sealing our skies, except for limited exceptions, in order to prevent the entry of the virus mutations, and also to ensure that we progress quickly with our vaccination campaign… so that more Israelis are vaccinated soon,” Netanyahu said on Sunday.

With the surge of coronavirus cases in the country despite the apparently successful vaccination program, the prime minister is urging an extension of the lockdown, including the airport closure.

“We want to win and get rid of it; for this, a final effort is required.” he said.