Israeli FM backs plan to 'fast track' Gaza aid via Cyprus

AFP , Wednesday 20 Dec 2023

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen expressed support during his visit to Cyprus on Wednesday for plans to send humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza Strip from the Mediterranean island.

Israeli FM
Israel s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (L) and his Cypriot counterpart Constantinos Kombos give a press conference in Nicosia on December 20, 2023 talking about a humanitarian aid corridor from the Mediterranean island to war-torn Gaza. AFP


Cyprus has proposed establishing a corridor to collect, inspect, and store aid on the island before shipping it to Gaza.

Cohen, after talks with his Cypriot counterpart Constantinos Kombos, emphasised the need for an "organised and well-inspected" transfer of aid.

"We aim to create a fast track for humanitarian aid to Gaza through this corridor," he told reporters.

The ministers visited a search and rescue coordination centre in Larnaca, discussing logistical details for the plan. Cohen also inspected facilities at Larnaca port, the departure point for aid shipments.

Cyprus was ready to deliver large quantities of aid through this "maritime lifeline" expected to provide "a sustained flow of high-volume humanitarian assistance to the civilians" in Gaza, Kombos said.

"We look forward to your green light for the first voyage," he told Cohen.

Under the plan, the aid would checked in Cyprus by a joint committee, including representatives from Israel.

Israel is facing mounting international pressure that could speed up the dispatch of much-needed aid to Gaza, subjected to months of sustained Israeli bombardment.

Its aerial bombing and ground invasion has so far killed 19,667 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Palestinian health ministry,

Israel's war on Gaza has also left swathes of the territory in ruins, including hospitals. The United Nations says it has also displaced 1.9 million of the territory's 2.4 million people.

Forced into overcrowded shelters, the displaced have struggled to find fuel, food, water and medical care.

Cypriot President Nicos Christodoulides has promoted his Gaza initiative among fellow EU leaders and friendly Arab states, and Larnaca was chosen due to its proximity to the Middle East.

The city is also home to the island's international airport, expected to receive aid from other countries.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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