Cyprus ready to ship aid to Gaza once go-ahead is given
November 22, 2023 | by b1og.net
Cyprus is poised to provide much-needed humanitarian aid to Gaza, pending approval. President Nikos Christodoulides has announced that his country is prepared to immediately ship an abundance of aid to Gaza, utilizing vessels that can navigate the shallow waters of the area. This proposal, which involves a maritime corridor from Cyprus’ Larnaca port to Gaza, is the only one currently under discussion on an international level. Once a cessation of fighting is declared, aid can begin to flow through this corridor. The president has highlighted the support of the European Union and the United States for this initiative, emphasizing Cyprus’ commitment to being a bridge to the region. Israel has also shown its support for the project, recognizing its potential benefits. The aim is not only to address immediate needs but also to plan for the long-term construction of a Gaza port. Through this process, Cyprus can ensure continuous aid supply to Gaza while partnering with international bodies such as the United Nations.
Cyprus ready to ship aid to Gaza
Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides has announced that Cyprus is prepared to immediately ship large quantities of humanitarian aid to Gaza, once conditions on the ground allow for it. The country’s proposal for a maritime corridor from the port of Larnaca to Gaza is currently the only one being discussed on an international level as a feasible way to significantly supplement aid getting into Gaza through Egypt’s Rafah border checkpoint. Planning for the corridor, which spans about 230 miles, is essentially completed, and aid can begin to flow when a pause in fighting is declared.
President Christodoulides has been in regular contact with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the proposal. He emphasized that obtaining a green light to start the shipments is a complicated matter, requiring intricate negotiations due to the ongoing Israeli military operations in Gaza. However, he expressed confidence that the initiative has the support of the European Union and the United States.
“The support we have received for this initiative is immense. We are a bridge to the region, and we are showing this in practice. This opportunity is significant for Cyprus,” said President Christodoulides.
Conditions for aid shipments
Before aid shipments can commence, a pause in fighting is needed. The ongoing Israeli military operations in Gaza have posed challenges for the movement of goods and humanitarian aid into the enclave. Once a temporary cessation of hostilities is achieved, the conditions will be conducive to initiating the aid shipments from Cyprus.
Cyprus’ proposal for a maritime corridor
Cyprus has proposed a maritime corridor from the port of Larnaca to Gaza as an effective means to supplement the current flow of aid. This proposal is currently the only one being discussed on an international level. The corridor spans about 230 miles and has been deemed feasible by Cyprus authorities. The geography of the region, including shallow water pathways, makes this corridor a suitable option for aid shipments.
Completion of planning for the corridor
The planning for the maritime corridor from Cyprus to Gaza has been completed. Technical assessments, logistics, and infrastructure considerations have been thoroughly evaluated. Cyprus is fully prepared to commence the flow of aid as soon as a pause in fighting allows for it.
Negotiations for a green light
Obtaining a green light to start the aid shipments is a complex process. Given the ongoing Israeli military operations in Gaza, intricate negotiations are required to ensure the safety and security of the corridor. Cyprus President Christodoulides has remained in close contact with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to navigate the intricate negotiations and move the project forward.
Support from the European Union and the United States
The initiative proposed by Cyprus has garnered extensive support from the European Union and the United States. Both entities understand the significance of providing aid to Gaza and have expressed their support for this initiative. This backing strengthens the position of Cyprus and facilitates the necessary negotiations for the aid shipments to proceed.
Israel’s positive stance on the project
Israel has indicated a positive stance on the project. The Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Lior Haiat, stated that Israel is definitely in favor of the project and is exploring it with relevant ministries and agencies. While the timeline for the opening of the corridor from Cyprus to Gaza has not been confirmed, Israel’s support is a promising sign for the initiative.
Israeli concerns and security measures
Israel has expressed concerns about potential aid diversion by Hamas, the militant group in control of Gaza. To address these concerns, Israel has extended an invitation to authorities from Israel, the United States, and other European countries to join Cypriot agents in vetting all shipments. This collaboration aims to ensure that no aid is used by Hamas against Israel, enhancing the security of the shipments.
Immediate and medium-term plans for aid shipments
In the immediate term, Cyprus plans to utilize shallow-draft vessels to transport the aid to Gaza. Discussions are underway with Gulf countries that possess such ships to facilitate the transportation. The objective is to have everything in place to start the aid shipments as soon as the situation on the ground allows for it.
In the medium term, there are plans to construct a floating dock off Gaza that can accommodate all types of ships for offloading assistance. This construction initiative will enhance the efficiency and scale of aid delivery to Gaza.
Long-term plans for aid delivery
Alongside immediate and medium-term plans, Cyprus envisions long-term solutions for aid delivery to Gaza. The construction of a Gaza port is part of these long-term plans. Establishing a dedicated port for aid shipments will provide a sustainable and efficient means of delivering aid to Gaza, ensuring a consistent flow of essential resources.
According to President Christodoulides, using the port of Larnaca as the loading point for aid has numerous advantages. The port has ample facilities to store aid, is in close proximity to the island’s main airport, and is adjacent to a U.S.-funded training facility for personnel from Cyprus and neighboring countries focused on port and maritime security.
The aid reaching Gaza through this corridor would be distributed by the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, utilizing its well-established network. The intention is to facilitate a continuous flow of aid to Gaza, significantly improving the living conditions for its residents.
Cyprus’ readiness to ship aid to Gaza exemplifies its commitment to being a bridge to the region and actively contributing to humanitarian efforts. The completion of planning, negotiations for a green light, and support from international entities demonstrate a collective determination to alleviate the suffering in Gaza. With the implementation of the proposed maritime corridor, Cyprus aims to ensure a more prosperous and sustainable future for the residents of Gaza.