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Israel mulls buying seaport in Cyprus to control maritime aid delivery to Gaza

March 11, 2024 at 9:15 am

Israeli Transportation Minister Miri Regev on 22 April 2014 [Murad Samara/Facebook]

The Israeli Ministry of Transport plans to purchase a port in Cyprus to inspect aid destined for the besieged Gaza Strip, the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported on its website yesterday.

The paper said upon instructions from Minister Miri Regev, a ministry delegation headed by the head of the government-owned Israel Ports Company, Uzi Itzhaki, and members of the Shipping and Seaports Authority, will leave for Cyprus today to review opportunities to purchase a port on the Greek side of the island.

Israeli estimates indicate the port will cost about $150 million and that the Cypriots are very interested in this step, which is still in its early stage. Plans will be put before the Israeli Knesset and submitted to the government for approval.

According to Ynet, the purchase is part of Israel’s efforts to find maritime solutions for the supply of goods, particularly in response to security risks arising at the Haifa port, in case of a war in the north with Lebanon’s Hezbollah group.

“If the acquisition does proceed, this port could also act as a checkpoint for inspecting goods prior to their arrival at the upcoming US-built port on the Gaza coastline,” the site added.

On Friday, a joint international effort was announced to activate a sea corridor to deliver humanitarian aid to the besieged Strip.

Read: Casualties reported as Israel targets Palestinians waiting for aid in Gaza

As a result of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, the United States, Britain, the UAE, the European Commission and Greek Cyprus issued a joint statement “supporting the activation of the sea corridor.”

The statement said the delivery will be “in coordination with the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Gaza, Sigrid Kaag, who is charged with facilitating, coordinating, monitoring and verifying the flow of aid to Gaza,” adding that “the tireless efforts made by the UAE to mobilise support for the ‘Amalthea’ initiative [which outlines a mechanism for securely shipping aid from Cyprus to Gaza via sea] will lead to an initial shipment of food supplies by sea to the residents of Gaza.”

The corridor aims to “increase the flow of humanitarian aid and commercial goods to Gaza through all possible routes,” according to the statement.

The five actors also said they would continue to pressure Israel to “facilitate more roads and open additional crossings to deliver more aid to more people.”

Israel totally besieged the Gaza Strip on 9 October, stopping the entry of food, aid and medical essentials as well as all other items, with Defence Minister Yoav Gallant calling Palestinians in the Strip “human animals” and saying Israel would treat them as such.