Arms over masks: India buys weapons from Israel as coronavirus cases spike

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  • 'Why is the government of India choosing to spend massive amounts on military purchases instead of prioritising a corona relief package, medical infrastructure, free healthcare and testing for all?' - Kavita Krishnan, Communist Party of India

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s handling of the coronavirus crisis has been criticised by activists and rights groups after it emerged his government decided to go ahead with an arms deal with Israel worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

According to a statement released by the Indian government, Israel will supply the Indian military with 16,479 Negev light machine guns, despite growing concerns over the health emergency facing the country of 1.3 billion people.

The deal, worth $116 million, came as doctors on the frontline in India continue to complain of a shortage of masks and protective equipment, highlighting concerns that India is ill-prepared to deal with a crisis of this magnitude.

According to authorities, there have been around 469 known cases of Covid-19 in India with 10 fatalities.

But India, like several other countries, has conducted few tests and is experiencing a spike in infections.

On Monday, an Indian epidemiologist said that up to 55% of the country or some 715 million people could have the virus, while a conservative estimate suggests India could see around 30,000 deaths by May.

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