From Cyprus: Second parade of aid ships to Gaza

The cargo ship “Jennifer” and two tugboats left the Cyprus port of Larnaca on Saturday afternoon. This was reported by Cyprus Radio and Cyprus Times news website. One of the two tugboats accompanying the freighter tows a platform with relief supplies behind it. So all three ships travel very slowly.

According to the official Cypriot news agency CNA, the journey takes about 65 hours. American aid organization World Central Kitchen and Spanish aid organization Open Arms want to bring rice, pasta, flour, legumes and canned goods to the Gaza Strip. Cypriot government spokesman Giannis Antoniou said Israeli inspectors checked the cargo before the ships left.

A jetty made of rubble

Gaza has no harbor that can accommodate large ships and its coastal waters are shallow. To unload cargo, a temporary jetty along the Gaza Strip was built using materials from destroyed buildings. Saturday's convoy included two forklifts and a crane and a crew to operate the crane.

APA/AFP/Hasan Mroue

Cargo ship “Jennifer” en route to Gaza Strip

The completion of a large floating dock in the Gaza Strip to deliver aid that the U.S. military is building is eagerly awaited. Completion is scheduled for May 1, but could come as early as mid-April, Cypriot President Nicos Christodoulits said late Friday, after holding talks with US officials earlier in the week. It will expedite the assistance.

Saturday's aid delivery, largely financed by the United Arab Emirates, was the second by sea from Cyprus. About two weeks ago, a smuggler from the aid organization “Open Arms” of the same name brought about 200 tons of goods and food into the Gaza Strip. The World Central Kitchen, a non-governmental organization, then took over the task of distributing relief items to the people – and plans to do the same this time.

Aid Institutions: Inadequate

But aid organizations say these efforts are not enough. The Israeli government says it is not responsible for hunger in the Gaza Strip by allowing aid through two border crossings in the south. But aid agencies say that's not enough to bring in enough supplies, let alone distribute them safely, in an increasingly lawless war zone.

According to UN estimates, a quarter of the population in the ravaged coastal region is at risk of starvation. Aid rarely meets day-to-day needs. UN says Israel is preventing aid to civilians in Gaza. As a result of the war, most of the coastal region's 2.3 million inhabitants were displaced. More than half live in tents in the southern Rafah region and have little food or basic medical care.

Deaths during distribution of relief

Casualties and injuries always occur during the distribution of relief supplies. On Saturday, according to the Palestinian Red Cross, at least five people were killed and 30 injured in a stampede during the issue. Before the arrival of about 15 trucks loaded with flour, among other things, thousands of people gathered at a roundabout in Gaza. Three of those killed were shot dead.

Gaza residents overseeing the distribution fired into the sky, witnesses told the AFP news agency. But Israeli soldiers are also said to have opened fire. Reports suggest that people were hit by vans while trying to carry food supplies. When contacted, the Israeli military said it had no information about the incident.

According to the BBC, the dropping of aid packages by the US Air Force continues to cost lives. Earlier in the week, 12 people reportedly drowned trying to retrieve aid packages that fell into the sea. Six others were reportedly crushed in the stampede on the way. The terrorist organization Hamas has reportedly demanded an end to the airdrops as the death toll continues to rise.

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