Home EU Agencies Increased international efforts to send aid to Gaza
EU Agencies

Increased international efforts to send aid to Gaza

The international community is diversifying routes to deliver vital aid to the population of Gaza affected by famine and bombings. The head of European diplomacy denounces the use of hunger “as a weapon of war”.

Early Wednesday, witnesses reported Israeli bombings against the south of the besieged Palestinian territory, which cost the lives of at least 88 people according to the health ministry of the Islamist movement Hamas.

With no truce on the horizon and while aid by land under the control of Israel only enters Gaza in dribs and drabs, several countries as well as the European Union have decided on alternative routes, by sea and air.

A first boat loaded with 200 tonnes of food left the Cypriot port of Larnaca for Gaza on Tuesday, using a corridor set up by the EU and several countries. This boat from the Spanish NGO Open Arms, which operates at very low speed, was about 260 km from Gaza on Wednesday, according to the Vessel Finder website.

Cyprus, approximately 370 km from the coast of the Palestinian territory, announced that it was preparing a second, “much larger” load.

In addition to the “Open Arms”, four American army boats left the United States on Tuesday with around a hundred soldiers and the equipment necessary for the construction of a pier and a dock in Gaza for the delivery humanitarian aid. The trip should take around 30 days and the installation will be ready “within 60 days”, according to American authorities.

Airdrops

For their part, several Arab and Western countries including the United States have been dropping meals and medical aid into the Gaza Strip on a daily basis for around ten days, especially the north where the situation is particularly desperate.

Morocco also sent 40 tonnes of aid via Tel Aviv airport to the Kerem Shalom crossing point, between Israel and Gaza.

But shipments by sea or airdrops cannot replace land transport, insists the UN.

“When we study alternative routes to deliver aid, by sea or by air, we must remember that we have to do it because the usual land route is closed,” said Josep Borrell.

“And starving the population is used as a weapon of war,” he lamented.

According to the Hamas Ministry of Health, at least 27 people died of malnutrition and dehydration, mostly children, in the Gaza Strip besieged since October 9 by Israel, which had already imposed a total blockade there since the takeover. in 2007 of this territory by Hamas.

The Israeli army announced a “pilot project” which allowed the entry of six aid trucks from the World Food Program (WFP) directly into the north of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, a first.

But the WFP estimates that 300 trucks of food aid are needed per day to meet the immense needs of some 2.4 million inhabitants, the vast majority of whom are threatened with famine according to the UN.

Since the start of the war, aid has entered Gaza via two terminals on Israel’s southern border, coming from Egypt which keeps its border closed with the Palestinian territory.

Despite international pressure, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is determined to continue his offensive against Hamas, considered a terrorist group by Israel, the EU and the United States.

“War on children”

“Israel will win this war whatever the cost. And to win this war, Israel must destroy the last battalions of Hamas in Rafah,” where 1.5 million Palestinians are crowded, the vast majority displaced by the war, Mr. Netanyahu said.

“We are going to finish the job,” added the Prime Minister who vowed to “annihilate” Hamas after the attack carried out on October 7 by commandos of this movement infiltrated from Gaza into Israel.

At least 1,160 people were killed in this attack, most of them civilians, according to a count compiled by AFP from official Israeli sources and some 250 people were kidnapped and taken to Gaza. One hundred and thirty hostages are still there, including 32 declared dead by Israel.

In retaliation, the Israeli army launched a massive bombing campaign against the cramped territory, followed 20 days later by a ground offensive that allowed its soldiers to advance from the north to the south of this strip of land of approximately 40 km long and 10 km wide.

The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) Philippe Lazzarini denounced a “war on children”, saying that more children have been killed in the Gaza Strip in four months of war than ‘in four years of conflicts across the world.

Faced with the intransigence of the protagonists, the mediating countries – the United States, Qatar, Egypt – are unable to secure a truce agreement accompanied by the release of Israeli hostages.

On the Israeli-Lebanese border, there is no respite from the violence either. On Wednesday, Hamas announced the death of a member of its armed wing in a strike attributed to Israel against a car in southern Lebanon in which another person died.

This article is originally published on swissinfo.ch

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