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Towards the opening of a maritime corridor between Cyprus and Gaza for humanitarian aid

Photo: Agence France-Presse Palestinians observe the damage inflicted on a building in Deir el-Balah by Israeli bombardment on Friday.

Adel Zaanoun – Agence France-Presse and Cécile Feuillatre – Agence France-Presse


  • Middle East

The European Union and the United States announced on Friday the upcoming opening of a maritime corridor between Cyprus and Gaza to transport humanitarian aid to the hungry Palestinian territory constantly bombarded by Israel, after five months of war.

This announcement followed that of US President Joe Biden on a major humanitarian operation by sea, according to US officials, involving the construction of a “temporary pier” in Gaza to allow “massive aid”.

Israel “welcomed” the planned maritime humanitarian corridor between Cyprus and the Gaza Strip, nearly 380 km apart. This initiative “will allow the increase of aid (entering) Gaza after a security check corresponding to Israeli standards,” Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lior Haiat wrote on X.

After five months of a devastating war triggered on October 7 by a bloody Hamas attack on Israel, Israeli strikes have claimed the lives of at least 78 people in the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 30,878. death toll in Gaza since the start of the conflict according to the Islamist movement's health ministry on Friday.

The United States is putting increasing pressure on Israel, its ally, which has besieged Gaza since October 9 and only lets in aid from Egypt in trickles.

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According to the UN, of the 2.4 million inhabitants in the cramped territory, 2.2 million are threatened with famine with serious lack of food and drinking water and 1.7 have were displaced by the fighting and Israeli strikes which also caused colossal destruction and reduced the hospital system to shreds.

“We are very close to the opening of this corridor, hopefully this Sunday,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the port of Larnaca in southern Cyprus, the EU country. geographically closest to Gaza.

A first pilot operation will be launched on Friday, she added, accompanied by Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides.

“The humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire […] This is why the European Commission, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, the “The United Kingdom and the United States today announced their intention to open a maritime corridor to deliver additional badly needed humanitarian aid,” according to a joint statement from the participants.

While recognizing that this operation would be “complex”, they underlined their determination to work to “ensure that aid is delivered as efficiently as possible”.

“Temporary pier” in Gaza

In recent days, several Arab and Western countries, including the United States and France, have carried out numerous airdrops of food.

But these airdrops, as well as the sending of aid by sea cannot replace the land route, estimates the UN which warns of an “almost inevitable widespread famine” in Gaza .

“Diversification of land supply routes remains the optimal solution” according to Sigrid Kaag, the UN aid coordinator for Gaza.

“I am working hard to achieve an immediate ceasefire of at least six weeks,” Joe Biden said in his State of the Union address Thursday, calling on Israel not to use humanitarian aid as a “bargaining currency”.

According to US officials, the construction of a “temporary pier” in Gaza will take several weeks and does not mean the deployment of US troops on the ground.

The entry of aid and its delivery to different sectors of the Gaza Strip, particularly in the north, also remains very difficult due to fighting, bombings, destruction and sometimes looting.< /p>

Occupied by the Israeli army from 1967 to 2005, the Gaza Strip, already subject to an Israeli blockade since Hamas took power in 2007, is bordered by Israel, Egypt which guards its closed border and the Mediterranean Sea.

According to the Hamas Ministry of Health, at least 20 civilians, most of them children, died of malnutrition and dehydration in the Palestinian territory.

“Everyone was screaming”

The war was sparked on October 7 by an unprecedented Hamas attack that left at least 1,160 dead, most of them civilians, in southern Israel, according to a count of AFP established from official sources.

Approximately 250 people were also kidnapped and taken to Gaza that day, and 130 hostages are still being held there, 31 of whom Israel says are dead.

In response, Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organization along with the United States and the European Union.

“The Israeli army will continue to operate throughout the Gaza Strip, including in Rafah, the last stronghold of Hamas,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated on Thursday.

To achieve “total victory”, Israel says it is preparing a ground offensive on Rafah, in the far south of the Gaza Strip against the closed border with Egypt, where nearly 1 .5 million Palestinians according to the UN.

“We were sleeping when a missile hit the house. Everyone started screaming. My sister-in-law and her children were killed. We don’t know where to go now with our children,” Jamila Abou Audeh, a 55-year-old displaced person, told Rafah in tears after seeing rescuers remove bodies from the rubble.

After four days of unsuccessful negotiations in Cairo, negotiations on a truce involving mediator countries — Egypt, Qatar, United States are to resume next week in Cairo, according to pro-government Egyptian media Al-Qahera News .

The mediators hoped to reach an agreement on a truce combined with a release of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners before Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims, which begins early next week.

Hamas demands, before any agreement, a definitive ceasefire and a withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, which Israel refuses.

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