One-year-old Israeli twin girls, who were born conjoined at the back of their heads, can make eye contact for the first time after undergoing rare separation surgery in a clinic in the city of Beersheba.

The more than 12-hour operation at the Soroka Medical Centre took months of preparation and involved dozens of experts from Israel and abroad, the hospital said.

Mickey Gideon, Soroka's chief pediatric neurosurgeon, said the operation had only been carried out 20 times worldwide and this was the first in Israel.

Photos released to Israeli media showed the twins, whose names were not given, facing one another in a cot, their heads bandaged.

The Soroka statement said the surgery involved cranial reconstruction and scalp grafts for both.