Aid ship 'offloading' food for Palestinians into northern Gaza

Shipment is a test for the opening of a sea route to supply aid to besieged enclave

First ship carrying aid to Gaza reaches its shore

First ship carrying aid to Gaza reaches its shore
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An aid ship carrying 200 tonnes of food arrived off the Gaza coast on Friday, as part of a pilot project to open a sea route to deliver life-saving supplies to Palestinians facing famine in the enclave.

Aid organisation Open Arms worked with US charity World Central Kitchen to deliver the aid. The shipment acted as a test for the sea route arranged by the UAE, US, EU, UK and Cyprus.

The UAE confirmed the arrival of the ship on Friday. “The aid was delivered via maritime corridor launched from Larnaca Port in Cyprus to Gaza in collaboration between the UAE, World Central Kitchen, and the Republic of Cyprus,” reported Wam.

The UAE has announced the arrival of the first ship carrying 200 tonnes of food and relief supplies to the Gaza Strip. The aid was delivered via maritime corridor launched from Larnaca in Cyprus to Gaza in collaboration between the UAE, World Central Kitchen, and the Republic of Cyprus.

The Israeli army on Friday said that aid had reached northern Gaza.

The aid ship deployed a cargo barge that was transported to a newly built jetty, which the army said was the unloading point for the aid.

“The ship contained 130 pallets of humanitarian equipment and 115 tonnes of food and water, that were transferred to 12 WCK trucks, which will distribute them to northern Gaza,” the army said in a post on X.

It added that the humanitarian aid was inspected before distribution.

“The vessels and goods underwent comprehensive security inspection and the delivery of humanitarian aid does not affect the maritime blockade,” the Israeli army said.

WCK founder Jose Andres shared footage online of the ship preparing to offload aid into northern Gaza on Friday afternoon. A separate post by the WCK said it was “offloading” the aid.

A WCK team in Gaza has built a floating jetty where the aid can be unloaded before it is distributed to people in northern Gaza.

Photographs published on Friday afternoon appeared to show the cargo just metres away from the jetty.

WCK chief executive Erin Gore said the group aimed to deliver about 300,000 meals.

Aid has trickled into Gaza since Israel began its war on the enclave, in response to an attack by Hamas on October 7. The UN has warned that more than half a million of the enclave's 2.3 million people are “one step away from famine”.

UN agencies said this month that child malnutrition levels were “particularly extreme” in the north of the enclave.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees said on Wednesday that an Israeli strike hit one of its food distribution warehouses in Rafah, killing an employee and injuring 22 people. UNWRA commissioner general Philippe Lazzarini said the attack came “as food supplies are running out, hunger is widespread and, in some areas, turning into famine”.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos said a second, larger aid vessel was being prepared to sail along the route. US officials said the country planned to build a temporary pier off Gaza for aid shipments.

“The operation is to avert famine in north Gaza … what can we do to bring in enough so we are not seeing people starve to death,” Reem Al Hashimy, the UAE's Minister of State for International Co-operation, said in an interview with The National on Thursday.

In the joint interview, Ms Al Hashimy and the chief executive of World Central Kitchen, Erin Gore, both spoke of the absolute necessity to avoid a famine in northern Gaza.

Ms Gore, who was visiting Abu Dhabi as part of her co-ordination with the UAE, said: “I cannot sleep at night, knowing we are not trying. I believe the greatest failure is to do nothing at all.”

There is ample understanding that this mission alone is not sufficient and both Ms Al Hashimy and Ms Erin stressed the need for all those who can to get involved and send aid.

Several countries, including the UAE, Jordan and US, have dropped aid from planes, with Germany set to join those operations. But air and sea missions are “no alternative” to delivering aid by land, a group of 25 humanitarian organisations, including Amnesty International and Oxfam, said in a statement.

More than 31,300 Palestinians have been killed in the war, Gaza's Health Ministry said.

Israel launched its strikes after Hamas militants killed about 1,200 people in attacks on Israeli communities on October 7 and abducted 240. Israel believes about 130 hostages remain in Gaza.

Activists and families of Israeli hostages have put pressure on their country's government to secure their release, with protesters blocking a motorway in Tel Aviv on Thursday.

Updated: March 16, 2024, 4:53 AM