Israel 'attempted to save' diplomat behind Sudan normalisation who died due to coronavirus

Israel 'attempted to save' diplomat behind Sudan normalisation who died due to coronavirus
Israeli doctors were reportedly flown out to Sudan in an attempt to treat a Sudan diplomat for Covid-19, who died as a result of the virus.
3 min read
28 May, 2020
Najwa Gadaheldam [Channel 5 screengrab]

Israel sent a jet with medical supplies and staff to Sudan in an effort to save the life of a diplomat who later died of coronavirus.

Najwa Gadaheldam had been instrumental in pushing for normalisation between the two countries, who are technically still at war.

However 24 hours after the medical plane arrived, the diplomat died due to complications related to Covid-19.

The plane landed in Khartoum on Tuesday and carried a senior official involved in the normalisation process, as well as staff and equipment, according to a report by Israeli Channel 13.

According to the television report, the team had planned to transport Gadaheldam to Israel for treatment but when they arrived, she was already in critical condition.

The visit would have likely remained a secret if the plane had not been noticed on flight-tracking websites.

Initial reports of an Israeli private jet landing in Khartoum had been denied by Sudanese army spokesperson Brigadier General Amer Mohammad Al-Hassan.

Al-Hassan told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site that the Khartoum International Airport was shuttered to all traffic apart from humanitarian aid flights and that the only fight to arrive in the capital on Tuesday - the day the alleged Israeli jet landed - was a Turkish aid shipment.

During Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ministers he had spoken on the phone with Sudan premier Abdel Fattah al-Burhan regarding Eid al-Fitr, and Channel 13 said he may have spoken about Gadaheldam’s condition as well.

Normalisation efforts meets resistance
Moves to normalise ties between the two countries prompted protest earlier this year.

Sudan has long been part of a decades-old Arab boycott of Israel over its occupation of Palestinian lands.

Following the brutal 1967 war in which Israel occupied the West Bank and seized Golan Heights from Syria, Arab leaders held a historic meeting in Khartoum outlining a strict policy in relation to Israel referred to as the “three nos”: No peace, no recognition, no negotiation with Israel.

This changed in February following a meeting between Sovereign Council leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who had been flown to Israel, and the Israeli premier.

"It has been agreed to start a cooperation that will lead to normalising the ties between the countries," Netanyahu's official said after the meeting.

While Sudanese government officials said Burhan "did not give a promise of normalising or having diplomatic relations" with Israel, the meeting was soon followed by the first Israeli flight across Sudanese airspace.

Instead, the unprecedented meeting was held to "protect the national security" of Sudan, Burhan claimed.

At the end of March elections, Netanyahu had said Israel and Sudan are “discussing rapid normalisation,” however Sudan’s cabinet later backtracked and said al-Burhan had not promised anything about normalising ties between the two countries.

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