Second UAE ship carrying aid for Gaza arrives in Egypt

Vessel is loaded with 4,544 tonnes of humanitarian supplies as part of the country's Gallant Knight 3 operation

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A second aid ship from the UAE, laden with 4,544 tonnes of humanitarian supplies destined for the residents of Gaza, has reached the Egyptian port of Al Arish, poised for its distribution in the Palestinian territory.

The vessel, which departed from the Port of Fujairah on February 3, is carrying 4,303 tonnes of food, 154 tonnes of shelter materials and 87 tonnes of medical aid provided by Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, the Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation and the Emirates Red Crescent.

Upon reaching Al Arish, UAE Minister of State for Youth Affairs Dr Sultan Al Neyadi, conducted an inspection of the aid and three warehouses where the remaining aid from the UAE is being stored until it can be transported across the Rafah border crossing.

“The United Arab Emirates, from the beginning of this conflict, has sent more than 160 planes carrying humanitarian aid relief and medicine as part of its air bridge programme under the Gallant Knight 3 operations that launched under the directives of His Highness President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed,” Dr Al Neyadi told The National.

“The UAE has spared no efforts both diplomatically and in its humanitarian efforts throughout this conflict to show that it does not simply pledge but makes efforts through action to help our Palestinian brothers and sisters,” he added.

During his tour of the UAE humanitarian efforts in Al Arish, Dr Al Neyadi was accompanied by other officials including the UAE’s ambassador to Egypt Mariam Al Kaabi.

On Sunday, it was confirmed that five automatic bakeries had been sent to the city. These bakeries will meet the daily needs of more than 420,000 people. Additionally, 124,000 parcels comprising food, medical supplies, hygiene kits, lighting projects and blankets were delivered.

The aid included 183 food parcels, 23 hygiene kits, 1,040 heavy winter clothing items, 3,402 undergarment parcels, 38 blankets and more, Wam reported.

Additionally, Gallant Knight 3, which now supports 28 charity kitchens, distributed 13,280 meals to 53,120 beneficiaries.

Tensions at Rafah border

About half of Gaza's population of 2.3 million people have been forced to flee to Rafah, which the UN has described as a “pressure cooker of despair” after Israel had first called it a safe zone.

Over the weekend, Israeli forces carried out arrests in Gaza's largest functioning hospital, health officials and the military said, as air strikes hit the enclave.

Israel's war on Gaza has killed more than 28,900 people, mostly women and children, the territory's health ministry said.

Over the weekend, tensions increased at the Rafah border crossing due to a fire occurring on the Palestinian side, coinciding with heightened security measures on the Egyptian side.

Egypt had increased its “security preparedness” and is closely following the situation in Rafah and is “ready to deal with any potential scenarios” that may break out at the border, an Egyptian army source in the border city of Al Arish told The National.

Checkpoints around the border city of Al Arish were stepped up over the last several days with several lorries carrying cement and concrete blocks could be seen making their way to the crossing.

Surveillance at checkpoints surrounding the border city of Al Arish intensified while numerous lorries transporting cement and concrete blocks have been observed heading towards the crossing.

A group of displaced citizens next to the Rafah crossing from the Palestinian side burned car tyres in front of the main gate of the crossing, then opened the gate and tried to take the aid on lorries on their way to the Gaza Strip, a border authority spokesman said.

World Health Organisation doctors in Gaza told The National that the remaining operational hospitals in Rafah are making contingency plans for an expected Israeli military incursion, but warned they would not be able to cope.

“Of course, we are working with our partners in Rafah, the remaining three hospitals, to prepare for when the Israeli military operation takes place but I reiterate that even if the contingency plans are in place, they are nowhere sufficient enough for the level of catastrophe we expect,” said Dr Rik Peeperkorn, WHO representative for the Palestinian territories.

Floating aid ship set to arrive

Rashid Al Mansoori, the acting secretary general of Emirates Red Crescent, told The National that a converted ship, serving as a field hospital, is scheduled to dock at Al Arish port in the upcoming days. Plans are under way to transport medical doctors and personnel to manage the ship's operations upon its readiness.

The 100-bed floating hospital set sail from the UAE on February 8 to provide crucial medical support to Palestinian patients affected by the war and is expected to arrive in the coming week, Mr Al Mansoori added.

The repurposed vessel – which has 100 medical and administrative staff on board – will be docked off the coast of the Egyptian city of Al Arish to support relief efforts for Gaza. It has operating rooms, intensive care facilities, a laboratory, a pharmacy and medical warehouses.

The vast ship, which sailed from Khalifa Port, also boasts an evacuation plane and boat and fully equipped ambulances to transport patients.

Updated: February 19, 2024, 8:33 AM