Three million surgical masks, donated by the Milner Foundation, landed Thursday evening in Israel on an El Al Dreamliner flight from China. The masks will be distributed by Magen David Adom to its emergency services staff, as well as to Zaka, Israel Railways, Israel Post, Israel Roads; Israel Airports Authority and Ben Gurion Airport, as well as essential employees in national security.
The masks are being distributed to Israel’s more remote hospitals. These are: Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva; Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center in Bnei Brak; Carmel Medical Center in Haifa; Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera; HaEmek Medical Center in Afula; and Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon.
The Milner Foundation was established by renowned tech investor and science philanthropist Yuri Milner, and his wife Julia. The donation was executed in coordination with Shlomi Kofman, Israel’s Consul-General in San Francisco.
Milner, an Israeli citizen living in Silicon Valley, was an early investor in a range of tech giants that shaped the Internet, including Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Airbnb and Spotify. Between 2005 and 2010, he even lived in Israel. He posits that “If we want to maintain our way of life, I would urge business leaders to consider adopting this practice even after the current acute phase of the crisis, and to provide their employees with masks for daily use in the office”. Milner added that “wearing a mask – covering the mouth and nose – needs to be the new norm when we’re outside of our homes. In conjunction with hand-washing, social distancing and other measures, this should be our strategy to get through the current crisis until the scientists come to the rescue, and develop a reliable vaccine or treatment.”
Foreign Minister Israel Katz thanked Milner for his donation, noting that he sees in him “a true friend of Israel”, and stating that: “During these times, the Foreign Ministry is serving as a central actor, assisting in the acquisition of essential equipment for fighting coronavirus – whether that be acquiring medical equipment, or securing contributions that assist Israel in coping with the crisis”.
Director of Magen David Adom, Eli Bin said in a statement: “The masks are an important tool in ensuring the safety of medics, paramedics and doctors, and no less important, the safety of ill patients that come into close contact with medical staff. I would like to thank Yuri and Julia Milner and the Milner Foundation for their generous and significant contribution to Magen David Adom and to medical personnel across Israel. The donation will assist in the national struggle against the spread of coronavirus.”
Consul Kofman said in a statement: “It is moving to see Israelis across the ocean supporting their country during this difficult period, and it is rare to see private foundations operating in this capacity. Thanks to the Milner Foundation’s donation, thousands of Israelis, and public servants who are serving the general public during the crisis, will be able to wear masks – an essential and necessary item now in global shortage.”
Only last month, the Milner Foundation (not to be confused with the James Milner Foundation) has announced a $3 million donation to three Israeli institutions leading the race against the clock in preventing the spread of coronavirus in Israel. The donation was divided among MDA, Tel Aviv University’s Sackler School of Medicine and George S. Wise Life Sciences, and Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center.