Israel has granted preliminary approval to Cyprus for establishing a maritime humanitarian corridor to facilitate the shipment of aid to the besieged and war-torn Gaza Strip, as announced by the foreign ministry on Thursday. The proposal, under development for over a month, aims to transport significant quantities of much-needed aid to Palestinians in Gaza, where Israel has been engaged in a nearly three-month conflict with the ruling Hamas group.
Gaza’s population of 2.4 million is grappling with chronic shortages of water, food, fuel, and medicine, and only limited aid is currently entering the Palestinian coastal territory.
Last week, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution urging for the “safe and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale.”
Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Lior Haiat announced on Thursday that Israel had provisionally endorsed a system allowing international aid to undergo checks “under Israeli supervision” in Cyprus before reaching Gaza.
Haiat stated, “There’s a basic authorization to use this route, but there are still some logistical problems that are awaiting resolution,” in a statement to AFP.
Cyprus has put forward a proposal to establish a humanitarian corridor, involving the collection, inspection, and storage of aid on the east Mediterranean island before its shipment to Gaza, located approximately 210 nautical miles away.
Official sources informed the Cyprus News Agency that Cyprus had fulfilled its part of the necessary procedures, but concerns were raised regarding the security of ships and their crews approaching Gaza, as well as determining the recipients of the aid.
During a recent visit to Nicosia, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen expressed support for expediting the process of sending humanitarian aid to Gaza by sea.
He said that Cyprus, Israel, and other regional partners are actively supporting the initiative to facilitate the organized and well-inspected transfer of aid.
Under the plan, a joint committee, including representatives from Israel, would oversee the inspection of aid in Cyprus. The initiative aims to enhance humanitarian relief to Gaza by shipping large volumes via sea, in contrast to the limited deliveries by truck through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.
Nicosia has expressed readiness to deliver substantial quantities of aid through this “maritime lifeline,” expecting to establish a sustained flow of high-volume humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza.
Israel is under increasing international pressure to boost critically needed aid to Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has pledged to dismantle Hamas, the group responsible for the October 7 attack that resulted in the deaths of around 1,140 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on the latest Israeli figures. Hamas operatives also took 250 people into the territory as hostages during the attack.
Israel’s retaliatory assault has resulted in the deaths of at least 21,320 people in Gaza, predominantly women and children, according to the territory’s health ministry.