JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel sent a plane of doctors to Sudan on Tuesday to save the life of a diplomat who contracted COVID-19, despite the two countries being officially at war with each other.
According to Israel’s Channel 13, diplomat Najwa Gadaheldam, a close adviser to Sudanese leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the key official fostering secret ties between Israel and Sudan, died 24 hours after the Israeli doctors arrived in Khartoum.
Gadaheldam, former industrial development officer at the United Nations, was supposed to fly back to Israel for treatment. However, the doctors were too late and she was already in critical condition when they arrived with senior officials and medical equipment.
The flight made national news in Israel after the secret plane full of medical personnel was reported on flight tracking sites.
NEW MIDDLE EAST: Flight from Israel lands in Sudan. Sudan once had a long, brutal, Islamist dictatorship. Change is coming. pic.twitter.com/NPscjhiJp3
— David Reaboi (@davereaboi) May 26, 2020
The flight came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a cabinet meeting on Sunday that he had spoken with Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on the phone to wish him a happy Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan.
During the phone call, Netanyahu said he wanted to see “continued strengthening of relations” between Israel, Sudan, and other Muslim countries.
In February, Israel and Sudan agreed to begin normalizing ties after Netanyahu held a secret meeting with Fattah al-Burhan.
The historic agreement marked a dramatic shift in relations between Israel and the Islamic nation.
Sudan is historically Israel’s enemy and went to war against the Jewish State during Israel’s 1948 War for Independence. Sudan also joined Arab armies in fighting against Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967.
Israel and Sudan do not have official bilateral relations but the US and other Western countries have previously encouraged the two countries to improve relations.