Blog

Middle East crisis live: Aid ship loaded with 200 tons of food sets sail from Cyprus to Gaza; Houthis to escalate attacks during Ramadan

[ad_1]

First aid ship to Gaza leaves Cyprus port in pilot project

A ship taking almost 200 tonnes of food to Gaza left a port in Cyprus on Tuesday morning, in a pilot project to open a new sea route of aid to a population on the brink of famine.

The charity ship, Open Arms, was seen sailing out of Larnaca port in Cyprus, towing a barge containing about 200 tonnes of flour, rice and protein.

The mission, mostly funded by the United Arab Emirates, is being organised by US based charity World Central Kitchen, while Spanish charity Proactiva Open Arms is supplying the ship.

Israel has been repeatedly accused of not doing enough to facilitate humanitarian assistance to Gaza’s population of 2.3 million people.

After five months of war, the UN says a quarter of people in the besieged Palestinian territory are on the brink of starvation.

Aid agencies’ efforts to get humanitarian aid to where it is most needed have been severely hampered by a combination of logistical obstacles, a breakdown of public order and lengthy bureaucracy imposed by Israel.

Israel has said it welcomed sea deliveries and would inspect Gaza-bound cargo before it left the staging area in Cyprus.

Share

Updated at 

Key events

Helena Smith

Helena Smith

The EU Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, has thanked the president of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides, for the island’s “leadership in setting up the humanitarian maritime corridor to Gaza”.

The EU chief wrote on X that the “the departure of the first ship is a sign of hope. We will work together for many more ships to follow. We will do everything in our power for aid to reach Palestinians.”

The corridor – called the Amalthieia initiative after the life-giving foster mother of Zeus in Greek mythology – was first proposed in October but Israeli security concerns had repeatedly scuppered the plan.

Israeli agents who had previously inspected facilities in Larnaca had expressed fears of Hamas militants hiding weapons among aid shipments.

In his own post on X, the Cypriot president described the initiative as “a lifeline to civilians”.

Thank you President @christodulides for Cyprus’ leadership in setting up the humanitarian maritime corridor to Gaza.

The departure of the first ship is a sign of hope. We will work hard together for many more ships to follow.

We will do everything in our power for aid to reach… https://t.co/P7i72ugqqY

— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) March 12, 2024

Share
Helena Smith

Helena Smith

A ship that has been docked in Cyprus for close to a month finally set sail for Gaza loaded with up to 200 tonnes of aid this morning.

A video showed the Spanish-flagged boat, Open Arms, departing the Mediterranean island’s southern port of Larnaca at an unknown hour early Tuesday.

Government officials in Cyprus had said the exact timing of the vessel’s departure would not be released “for security reasons.”

Onlookers could be heard clapping and cheering as the ship slowly manoeuvred out of the port, towing a barge carrying the canvas-covered aid.

The shipment is said to include non-perishable dry and canned food, water and medicines – provisions that are now desperately needed in the besieged coastal strip amid reports of famine spreading among its 2.3 millions strong Palestinian populace.

The US charity, World Central Kitchen, via a post on X, also said that “the Open Arms- fund boat has set sail.”

Officials told the Guardian at the weekend that once the long-awaited maritime aid corridor between Cyprus and Gaza finally opened the journey to the territory – 210 nautical miles away – would take “around 50 hours” because the tugboat would, by necessity, have to move “very slowly”.

Open Arms departs from Larnaca with humanitarian aid for Gaza. Photograph: Yiannis Kourtoglou/Reuters

The inaugural voyage is considered a pilot mission with officials saying it will highlight the perils and problems future operations are likely to face. Open Arms had originally been set to leave Larnaca on Friday, then Sunday and Monday with the missed deadlines, ultimately attributed to “technical reasons”, sparking widespread speculation over what, exactly, was stopping it.

By late Monday, Greek Cypriot media were reporting that the Open Arms had been delayed for no other reason than that there was nowhere to land the shipment.

Politis, a leading daily, wrote: “The delay is due to the fact that that a platform [landing point] in Gaza is not yet ready to receive the 150 tons of humanitarian help that the vessel is transporting, according to the Cyprus news agency’s information.”

One western diplomat based in Nicosia, the island’s capital, told the Guardian: “It just seems so odd that it should be announced at all when there is nowhere to take the aid to.”

Share

Updated at 

Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner general for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, said that Israeli forces have prevented essential medical aid from entering Gaza.

“A truck loaded with aid has just been turned back because it had scissors used in children’s medical kits,” he wrote on X.

“Medical scissors are now added to a long list of banned items the Israeli Authorities classify as “for dual use”.

“The list includes basic and lifesaving items: from anaesthetics, solar lights, oxygen cylinders and ventilators, to water cleaning tablets, cancer medicines and maternity kits.”

He warned that the lives of two million people depends on basic items and critical humanitarian supplies being allowed into the Gaza Strip as soon as possible as “there is no time to waste”.

#Gaza: an entire population depends on humanitarian assistance for survival. Very little comes in & restrictions increase.

A truck loaded with aid has just been turned back because it had scissors used in children’s medical kits.

Medical scissors are now added to a long list of… pic.twitter.com/Obpsi9bVkV

— Philippe Lazzarini (@UNLazzarini) March 11, 2024

Share

Here is more on the series of strikes against Yemen’s Houthi rebels carried out by the US and the UK.

The airstrikes hit port cities and small towns in western Yemen, killing at least 11 people and injuring 14, a spokesperson for Yemen’s internationally recognised government has told Reuters.

US Central Command (Centcom) said it carried out six strikes on Monday, claiming it destroyed an unmanned underwater vessel and 18 anti-ship missiles in Houthi controlled areas.

“These weapons presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and US Navy ships in the region,” Centcom said in its statement, adding that the strikes were carried out to “protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer”.

March 11 Red Sea Update

Between 8:50 a.m. and 12:50 p.m. (Sanaa time) on March 11, Iranian-backed Houthi terrorists fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles from Houthi-controlled areas of into the Red Sea toward merchant vessel Pinocchio, a Singaporean-owned, Liberian-flagged… pic.twitter.com/NmXtLSsswT

— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) March 12, 2024

Attacks from the Houthis in the Red Sea have disrupted global shipping, forcing firms to reroute to longer and more expensive journeys around southern Africa, while stoking fears that Israel’s war in Gaza could spread to destabilise the wider Middle East.

Despite reprisals from the US, UK and other coalition partners, the Houthis have escalated their campaign of attacks on commercial vessels in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

Houthi military spokesperson Yahya Sarea said on Tuesday that the group would escalate their military operations during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

Share

Updated at 

First aid ship to Gaza leaves Cyprus port in pilot project

A ship taking almost 200 tonnes of food to Gaza left a port in Cyprus on Tuesday morning, in a pilot project to open a new sea route of aid to a population on the brink of famine.

The charity ship, Open Arms, was seen sailing out of Larnaca port in Cyprus, towing a barge containing about 200 tonnes of flour, rice and protein.

The mission, mostly funded by the United Arab Emirates, is being organised by US based charity World Central Kitchen, while Spanish charity Proactiva Open Arms is supplying the ship.

Israel has been repeatedly accused of not doing enough to facilitate humanitarian assistance to Gaza’s population of 2.3 million people.

After five months of war, the UN says a quarter of people in the besieged Palestinian territory are on the brink of starvation.

Aid agencies’ efforts to get humanitarian aid to where it is most needed have been severely hampered by a combination of logistical obstacles, a breakdown of public order and lengthy bureaucracy imposed by Israel.

Israel has said it welcomed sea deliveries and would inspect Gaza-bound cargo before it left the staging area in Cyprus.

Share

Updated at 

Opening summary

Welcome to our latest live coverage of Israel’s war in Gaza and wider Middle East crisis.

Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels have said they will escalate their military operations in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

Their announcement came as Yemen’s internationally recognised government said that at least 11 people had been killed in airstrikes carried out by the US and UK.

Here are some of the other latest developments:

  • Australia’s foreign minister, Penny Wong, said on Tuesday that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was undermining Israel with his approach to the war in Gaza and urged the country to change course or lose even more international support. The US president, Joe Biden, said on Saturday that Netanyahu was “hurting Israel more than helping” by conducting the war in a way contrary to the country’s values. Asked about his comments on Tuesday, Wong agreed and said international support for Israel would continue to fray unless it addressed the “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza.

  • The Israeli military is checking whether it has killed Hamas’s deputy military leader in an airstrike in Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on Monday. If his death is confirmed, Marwan Issa will be the highest-ranking official from the Islamist militant movement killed by Israel in the five months of war.

  • The UN secretary-general António Guterres has reiterated his calls for an end to hostilities in Gaza and the increased delivery of humanitarian aid, describing international humanitarian law as in tatters. He told the media that a “threatened Israeli assault on Rafah could plummet the people of Gaza into an even deeper circle of hell”. He also called for the release of hostages held by Hamas and the removal of “all obstacles to ensure the delivery of lifesaving aid at the speed and massive scale required” to Gaza.

  • Israel has launched airstrikes near Lebanon’s eastern city of Baalbek, security sources and state media have said, in the second raid in the region since cross-border hostilities began after the Gaza war. Sources told Reuters and AFP that the strikes had killed one person and injured others.

  • Twelve of Israel’s most prominent human rights organisations have signed an open letter accusing the country of failing to comply with the international court of justice’s provisional ruling that it should facilitate access of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Share

Updated at 



[ad_2]

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button