Initial Aid Ship Departs Cyprus To Gaza, But There’s No Clear Unloading Plan

At a moment when the White House is openly clashing with Israel over Gaza policy, there have been rapid developments regarding the risky venture of shipping humanitarian aid by sea to the war-ravaged Gaza Strip and its over 2 million residents.

On Tuesday, the Spanish NGO ‘Open Arms’ sent the first chartered ship loaded with 200 tonnes of humanitarian aid towards the Strip. It set sail from Larnaca, Cyprus, on a voyage of some 370km. The group said on X, “The maritime humanitarian corridor to the Strip is opened, in a highly complex mission that we trust will be the first of many.”

The mission is happening under the aegis of an EU humanitarian corridor at a moment Palestinians are facing famine conditions in the Gaza Strip. Open Arms is also partnering with the World Central Kitchen.

Open Arms spokeswoman Laura Lanuza said the aid ship contains “mainly water and food: rice, pasta, flour, canned food, tins of tuna … Basic necessities.” She described that “When we first arrived in Cyprus, we thought it would be mission impossible.”

The government of Cyprus has been key in setting up the EU maritime aid corridor. “Our goal is to establish a maritime highway of boats and barges stocked with millions of meals continuously headed towards Gaza,” a statement by the World Central Kitchen said. The initiative is funded in part by the UAE.

At this early stage the needed infrastructure for offloading the aid supplies is still very much in question…

Israel has approved the idea of the maritime corridor so long as vessels undergo the proper security checks, which Tel Aviv is coordinating with Cypriot authorities on implementing.

But even as the Open Arms vessel, which is towing a barge loaded with flour, rice and protein, makes its way towards Gaza for the expected two-day trip, international reports say there’s as yet “no clear unloading plan.”

“Once the barge nears Gaza, two smaller vessels will tow it to the jetty being built by WCK, which operates 65 kitchens across the territory,” writes Canadian broadcaster CBC. “The organization plans to distribute the food in northern Gaza.”

A separate but parallel effort is underway by the Pentagon upon Biden administration orders. A US support and logistics ship, the General Frank S. Besson, departed a naval base in Virginia on Saturday.

It is carrying equipment for US soldiers to construct a large temporary pier off Gaza’s coast to transport food from ships, with the plan being for Israel to provide security.

US officials have predicted that the project could take up to 60 days before the pier is up and running. Some 1,000 US troops working from aboard naval vessels in the Mediterranean will construct the pier.


Zero Hedge

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