Israel gives Cyprus preliminary OK for aid to Gaza by sea

AFP , Thursday 28 Dec 2023

Israel has given preliminary approval to Cyprus for a maritime humanitarian corridor to ship aid to the besieged and war-torn Gaza Strip, the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Israel s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (R) and his Cypriot counterpart Constantinos Kombos give a press
Israel s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (R) and his Cypriot counterpart Constantinos Kombos give a press conference in Nicosia. AFP


The proposal, in the works for more than a month, aims to deliver large quantities of badly needed aid to Palestinians in Gaza, where Israel has waged a nearly three-month war.

Gaza's 2.4 million people are suffering chronic shortages of water, food, fuel and medicine, with only limited aid entering the Palestinian coastal territory.

Last week the UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for "safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale".

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Lior Haiat said on Thursday Israel had tentatively approved a system to allow international aid to be checked "with Israeli supervision" in Cyprus before being delivered directly to Gaza.

"There's a basic authorisation to use this route, but there are still some logistical problems that are waiting to be solved," Haiat told AFP.

Cyprus has proposed establishing a humanitarian corridor to collect, inspect and store aid on the east Mediterranean island before shipping it to Gaza, some 210 nautical miles away.

Official sources told the Cyprus News Agency that Cyprus had completed its part of the necessary procedures, but the issue of the security of the ships and their crews approaching Gaza was raised, as well as who would receive the aid.

During a visit to Nicosia last week, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen expressed support for creating a fast-track process for humanitarian aid sent to Gaza by sea.

He said Cyprus, Israel and other regional partners are promoting the initiative to facilitate the transfer of aid "in an organised and well-inspected manner".

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

Nicosia said it is 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.

Israel is facing growing international pressure to increase desperately needed aid to Gaza.


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