Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday accused the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of committing “treachery” and “betrayal” after its Etihad Airways cargo plane flew direct to Israel to deliver coronavirus aid to Palestinians.
Etihad Airways made history on Tuesday by flying the first known direct commercial flight between Israel and the UAE.
The airline sent the plane loaded with 16 tonnes of coronavirus aid for Palestinians on a direct flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv.
Iran’s Supreme Leader said on Twitter: “Today, some Persian Gulf states have committed the biggest treachery against their own history and the history of the Arab world. They have betrayed #Palestine by supporting Israel. Will the nations of these states tolerate their leaders’ betrayal?”
The Etihad cargo jet, painted in all white and missing any marking, landed at Ben-Gurion Airport just after 9 pm after seemingly flying a roundabout route through Iraq and either Jordan or Turkey.
An Etihad spokesperson said: “Etihad Airways operated a dedicated humanitarian cargo flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv on 19 May to provide medical supplies to the Palestinians. The flight had no passengers on board”.
The official UAE news agency WAM said “The aid includes personal protective equipment, PPE, and medical equipment. Most notably, it includes 10 ventilators that are acutely needed”.
The flight struck a rare moment of public cooperation between the UAE and Israel. The UAE has no formal diplomatic ties to Israel, but the nations begun to increasingly cooperate openly after years of rumoured back-channel discussions between them over the mutual enmity of Iran.