Hamas says maritime aid route for Gaza inadequate, equivalent to 2 trucks

Ahram Online , AFP , Wednesday 13 Mar 2024

The Hamas government in Gaza said Wednesday that sending an aid ship from Cyprus to the Palestinians territory was an inadequate response to the needs of its 2.4 million people under Israel's siege and relentless bombardment.

Palestinians line up for a free meal in Rafah, Gaza Strip, on Tuesday, March 12, 2024.
Palestinians line up for a free meal in Rafah, Gaza Strip, on Tuesday, March 12, 2024. AP


"According to what was announced, the ship's cargo does not exceed that of one or two trucks, and it will take days to arrive," Salama Marouf, spokesman for the government press office, said in a statement.

He said the effectiveness of this mechanism becomes questionable.

"Until this moment the insufficiency of efforts to relieve our people and that they remain below the minimum required threshold in the face of the humanitarian disaster affecting people, especially in northern Gaza, where more than 700,000 people suffer from a clear war of starvation," said Salama Maarouf, Head of the Palestinian Media Office in a statement.

"The ship's cargo does not exceed the load of a truck or two, and it will take days," he said.

"It is not known at this moment where it will dock and how it will reach the shores of Gaza, not to mention that it will be subject to inspection by the occupation army."

The statement urges the international community to take action, and calls on them to pressure Israel to grant access to Gaza through land crossings, "such as Rafah and Karm Abu Salem, or otherwise reopen the Muntar, Shuja'iya, and Beit Hanoun crossings."

"The best way to do that is to operate the land crossings in a manner that allows for the rapid entry of thousands of trucks of aid and relief, which are lined up on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing and rejected by the occupation."

A former salvage vessel run by Spanish charity Open Arms set off from Cyprus early Tuesday towing a barge loaded with 200 tonnes of aid in a trial run for the maritime corridor.

On Wednesday, the vessel had yet to complete the nearly 400-kilometre (250-mile) crossing of the eastern Mediterranean to Gaza, where US charity World Central Kitchen said work was underway to build a makeshift jetty.

Echoing a point made repeatedly by UN agencies in recent days, Marouf noted that a maritime aid corridor was far less efficient than overland routes, and called for international pressure on Israel to let aid trucks through its border crossings.

An average of 112 trucks per day have been able to enter Gaza since the first checkpoint, in Rafah on the border with Egypt, opened on October 21, according to figures from UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

Before the war, nearly 500 trucks a day entered Gaza, humanitarian sources have told AFP.

Cumbersome Israeli security checks on all cargoes entering the territory slow down the process, and some trucks are simply sent back, aid workers say.

Gaza's dire food shortages after more than five months of war have resulted in 27 deaths from starvation and dehydration, most of them children, according to the territory's health ministry.

Israel's war on Gaza has killed at least 31,272 people, mostly women and children, according to health ministry figures.

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