Sunday, June 16, 2024
HomeMiddle EastUS send leaves Cyprus weighted down with help for Gaza

US send leaves Cyprus weighted down with help for Gaza

A US container ship loaded with aid for Gaza left Cyprus Thursday in a new test of a maritime corridor to get relief into the besieged Palestinian territory, authorities said.

The US-flagged MV Sagamore left the port of Larnaca after being loaded with aid from Britain, Cyprus and the United States, Cyprus government spokesperson Yiannis Antoniou told the official CNA news agency.

US military engineers have been assembling a temporary pier for installation on the Gaza coast to unload maritime aid deliveries.

The operation has been delayed by heavy seas off the Gaza coast which forced the sappers to assemble the jetty in the Israeli port of Ashdod before towing it to the Gaza landing site.

“The platform is expected to be ready by the time the ship arrives in order for the aid to be unloaded and distributed to Palestinians in need,” Antoniou said.

Donor governments have been scrambling to find alternative ways to get aid into Gaza after UN agencies warned of looming famine in the face of the dwindling land deliveries being allowed into the territory by Israel.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said the pier will “significantly increase” the volume of aid reaching Gaza but said it was not a “substitute” for greater land access via Israel.

The Spanish aid group Open Arms chartered the first vessel to arrive in Gaza from Cyprus, but its partner charity World Central Kitchen suspended its operation after Israeli air strikes killed seven of its staff as they unloaded a maritime delivery on April 1.

The Pentagon has said the pier project will cost at least $320 million.

UN agencies and humanitarian aid groups have warned that maritime deliveries and airdrops cannot deliver aid in the quantities needed to avert famine.

Gaza has been devastated by the war which started with Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of about 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 34,535 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.


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