April 22, 2024

Brighton Journal

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The war between Israel and Hamas and aid news for Gaza: live updates

The war between Israel and Hamas and aid news for Gaza: live updates

The first sea shipment of food for Gaza left the Mediterranean island of Cyprus on Tuesday morning, officials said, marking the start of an untested sea route to deliver aid to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who the United Nations says are on the brink of starvation.

The ship was towing a barge loaded with about 200 metric tons of rice, flour and other food items from World Central Kitchen, a charitable group. The ship, provided by the Spanish aid organization Open Arms that bears its name, is the first authorized to deliver supplies to Gaza by sea since 2005, according to Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Union's executive arm, which has supported Gaza. an effort.

“It is a lifeline for civilians,” said Nikos Christodoulides, President of Cyprus. he said on social media.

With the Gaza Strip under a near-total blockade and exposed to more than five months of Israeli bombing, much of the Strip is at risk of famine, the United Nations has warned. Hunger is particularly serious in the north, where UN agencies operate Mostly hanging Relief operations, citing Israeli restrictions on convoys, security issues, and poor road conditions.

Aid groups say very little aid reaches Gaza by land. This is prompting a multinational effort to deliver food and necessities by sea and air. The United States, Britain, the European Union and other governments said last week that they would establish a sea corridor to bring aid to Gaza from Cyprus, and the US military announced plans to build a floating dock to facilitate the delivery of aid because Gaza does not pass through the sea. You have an effective outlet.

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But US officials said construction of the floating dock could take 30 to 60 days, and aid groups and Gaza officials said sea shipments and air drops were cumbersome and could not come close to supplying trucks. Trucks loaded with food into Gaza have been loaded with about 15 to 30 metric tons each, according to figures from the United Nations and other agencies, meaning the amount coming by sea is far less than what enters Gaza by land in a single day.

On average, about 100 trucks carrying food and other supplies entered Gaza every day during February via the two open land routes. But this represents a small fraction of what was happening on land before the war began in October.

Israel insists on inspecting shipments into Gaza and says aid intended for civilians can be diverted by Hamas, but says it does not restrict the amount of aid that enters. The Israeli government said it supports the sea lane as long as shipments are inspected in Cyprus “in accordance with Israeli standards.”

Ms von der Leyen told reporters in the Cypriot port of Larnaca last week that the first sea shipment was a “pilot project” and that other shipments would soon follow.

It was not clear how the World Central Kitchen cargo would be unloaded and distributed once the ship reached the shores of Gaza, a journey that would take about 240 miles from Cyprus. The group's founder, José Andrés, the famous Spanish-American chef, said over the weekend that it had begun building a dock in Gaza to receive aid, but the group did not specify the construction site.

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Construction of the pier was “well underway,” Mr. Andres He said Tuesday on social media. “We may fail, but the biggest failure is not trying!”

Officials and aid groups said the usual sailing time between Cyprus and Gaza ranges between 15 and 17 hours, but they added that the Open Arms ship would likely take longer due to its heavy cargo.

The group said the ship was carrying rice, flour, lentils, dried beans, canned beans, canned tuna, canned beef and canned chicken. Mr. Andres said that the United Arab Emirates is providing financing and logistical support for the operation.

Since October, organizers and Palestinian chefs working with World Central Kitchen have served more than 34 million meals in Gaza, according to the group. The organization established 65 Community kitchens Mr. Andres said the company is in the Palestinian-administered area and has plans to build at least 35 more facilities. About 350,000 meals are served daily, but Mr. Andres said he would like to distribute more than 1 million meals a day.

European officials welcomed the news of the ship's departure.

“We have worked side by side not only with Cyprus, but with the United Arab Emirates, the United States and the United Kingdom,” Ms. von der Leyen told European lawmakers on Tuesday. He added: “When this sea corridor is fully operational, it can ensure a sustainable, orderly and robust flow of aid to Gaza.”

Nikki Kitsantonis Contributed to reports.