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A first ship loaded with supplies en route to Gaza

Photo: Iakovos Hatzistavrou Agence France-Presse The Open Arms ship in the port of Larnaca in Cyprus on March 11, 2024.

Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse and Mathieu Gorse – Agence France-Presse in Jerusalem

12:32 p.m.

  • Middle East

A first Spanish ship loaded with supplies left Cyprus on Tuesday for the besieged Gaza Strip, where the population on the verge of famine is desperately awaiting aid after more than five months of war between Israel and the Hamas.

During the night, according to an AFP journalist in the Gaza Strip, Israeli bombings targeted Rafah, refuge for hundreds of thousands of displaced people in the south of the territory, as well as the neighboring town of Khan Yunis and the city of Gaza, in the north.

These strikes left 80 dead, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.

As the Muslim world entered the holy fasting month of Ramadan, the inhabitants of the Palestinian territory gathered joylessly on Monday evening, around meager meals, for a first daily breaking of the fast.

“This Ramadan doesn’t feel like Ramadan. Rather, it tastes like blood, misery, separation and oppression,” testified Oum Mohammed Abou Matar, a Palestinian woman who baked bread in an oven fueled by pieces of cardboard.

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Faced with the humanitarian emergency in the Gaza Strip, where Israel has imposed a total siege since the start of the war, the European Union wants to set up a sea route from Cyprus, the closest EU country to the coasts of the Middle East.

A first boat belonging to the Spanish NGO Open Arms left the port of Larnaca, approximately 370 kilometers from Gaza, on Tuesday morning, using this corridor.

His cargo of 200 tons of food is to be distributed in Gaza by the organization of Spanish-American chef José Andrés, World Central Kitchen, which already has teams in Gaza and has taken charge of building a pier to unload help.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, saw in the departure of this ship “a sign of hope”. “We will work hard so that many other boats follow,” she added on the social network X.

“Time is running out”

“Time is running out” to avoid famine in the northern Gaza Strip, “in the grip of a humanitarian catastrophe” due to lack of sufficient food aid, warned the director of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), Cindy McCain .

In the north of the territory, “more than 2,000 health service employees are unable to find food to break the fast” of Ramadan, said the Hamas Ministry of Health.

In recent days, several countries have begun dropping aid shipments into the Gaza Strip.

An American military ship also left the United States on Saturday with the materials needed to build a pier.

International aid, subject to the green light from Israel, only enters the Gaza Strip, a territory of 2.4 million inhabitants where the UN fears widespread famine.< /p>

This aid mainly arrives from Egypt through the Rafah border post, but its delivery to the North is made almost impossible by looting, fighting and destruction. According to the UN, around 300,000 people are threatened with famine in this part of the territory.

“We’ll Get Them All”

The war was sparked on October 7 by an unprecedented attack by Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza into southern Israel, which left at least 1,160 people dead, most of them civilians, according to an AFP count established from official Israeli sources.

In retaliation, Israel promised to annihilate the Islamist movement, in power in Gaza since 2007, which it considers a terrorist organization along with the United States and the European Union.

His army launched an offensive that has so far killed 31,112 people in the Gaza Strip, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.

Despite new discussions in early March in Cairo, the United States, Qatar and Egypt, the three mediator countries, did not manage to secure a truce agreement accompanied by a release of hostages held in Gaza since the start of the war.

According to Israel, 130 hostages are still in Gaza, 31 of whom are believed to be dead, out of around 250 people kidnapped on October 7.

On Monday, the army announced an airstrike on the night of Saturday to Sunday against the number 2 of the armed wing of Hamas, Marwan Issa, in the center of the Gaza Strip, without being able to say whether he had been killed.

“We will have them all,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking of the other leaders of the Islamist movement.

To achieve “total victory” against Hamas, Benjamin Netanyahu announced an upcoming ground offensive on Rafah, a town stuck against the closed border with Egypt where, according to the UN, there are massed nearly a million and a half Palestinians.

This prospect has sparked repeated warnings from the international community, notably the United States, Israel's main ally, which has raised its voice in recent days by calling for a ceasefire and entry of increased humanitarian aid.

The office that coordinates all American intelligence agencies (ODNI) affirmed Monday that Israel “would probably face armed resistance from Hamas for years to come”, while emphasizing the risks of regional escalation involving in particular the Lebanese Hezbollah.

The Lebanese Islamist movement, ally of Hamas, claimed Tuesday to have launched “more than 100 rockets” at Israeli military positions, “in response” to airstrikes on Baalbek, in eastern Lebanon .

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116