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Cyprus cooperating with EU and Mid-Eastern partners on humanitarian sea route to Gaza

November 1, 2023 at 1:44 pm

Cyprus’ President Nikos Christodoulides arrives at EU Leaders Summit on October 27, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium [Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images]

Cyprus is cooperating with European Union and Middle Eastern partners to arrange a sea corridor from the island’s port of Limassol to Gaza, the Times of Israel has reported. The aim is to provide crucial humanitarian aid to the besieged territory as soon as conditions on the ground permit.

According to a senior Cypriot government official, who requested anonymity due to not being authorised to disclose the specifics of the proposal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not oppose the idea when presented with it by President Nikos Christodoulides last week.

Cyprus plans to ensure a consistent and substantial supply of aid transported by sea during what the source described as “humanitarian pauses” in the conflict, allowing essential assistance to reach those in dire need. “We want to be ready to start sending aid once a window of opportunity opens,” he added.

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The proposition has garnered support from EU member states including Ireland, Spain, France and the Netherlands, as well as countries in the Arab world, such as Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Jordan. The US government and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah have also been informed about the proposal. Christodoulides is scheduled to have a phone conversation with Netanyahu later today.

The official further emphasised that there is a shared recognition of the necessity for this humanitarian corridor as the Israeli attacks against Gaza intensify. However, he added that Israel’s primary concern is to ensure that the aid shipments do not contain any items that could potentially be weaponised by Hamas. They also want to ensure that the contents of the containers are thoroughly vetted before leaving Limassol.

Meanwhile, the demand for even larger quantities of aid, including medical supplies, food and clothing, becomes increasingly pressing. Cyprus is coordinating actively with the Palestinian authorities to identify the most critical aid requirements.

Efforts are underway to address logistical aspects, including the crucial decision of where the ships will dock to unload aid and which international agencies in Gaza will be responsible for its distribution.

Cyprus is the closest EU member state to Gaza, lying approximately 370 km (230 miles) north-west of the enclave at its closest point.

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