Israel-Gaza: Aid arrives on the Gaza coast in the first sea shipment

  • Written by Ian Casey and Lipika Pelham
  • BBC News

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The World Central Kitchen barge loaded with food is the first sea shipment of aid to reach Gaza

The first sea humanitarian aid shipment to Gaza has been unloaded on the beach.

The American charity behind the mission, World Central Kitchen (WCK), is implementing the mission in cooperation with the United Arab Emirates.

The shipment included 200 tons of much-needed food in Gaza, which the United Nations says is on the brink of famine.

Relief agencies accused Israel of obstructing the delivery of aid, which Israeli officials strongly denied.

They say that Israel is allowing aid to pass through two crossings in the south and has blamed aid agencies for a logistical failure.

Much of the Gaza Strip was devastated during Israeli military operations that began after Hamas militants attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking 253 hostage.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry says more than 31,400 people have been killed in Gaza since then.

The shipment arrived on Saturday aboard the Spanish charity ship Open Arms. Its cargo includes beans, carrots, canned tuna, chickpeas, canned corn, boiled rice, flour, oil, salt and date pads, which have spiritual significance during Ramadan.

Israeli officials examined it at a port in Cyprus.

This represents the beginning of a trial to see whether the sea route would be more effective than air and land deliveries.

Aid agencies have repeatedly warned that no relief method is as effective as delivery by land, but say Israeli restrictions mean only a small fraction of what is needed arrives.

“All shipments have been unloaded and are being prepared for distribution in Gaza,” WCK said in a statement.

Teams worked through the night to deliver aid to dry lands.

Gaza has no functioning port, so the WCK team built a temporary pier jutting out from the beach using the rubble of destroyed buildings.

However, there are few details on how aid will be distributed, with UN relief agencies describing huge obstacles to getting relief supplies to those in need.

Earlier, WCK founder, famous chef José Andrés, Written on X (Previously Twitter) that all food aid from the barge was loaded into 12 trucks.

“We did it!” He wrote, adding that this was a test to see if they could bring in more aid in the next shipment — up to “thousands of tons per week.”

The Israeli army said in a statement that forces were deployed to secure the coastline.

Video explanation,

Raising aid to Gaza to shore from the barge

This delivery has been highly anticipated since the ship set off from Larnaca port on Tuesday.

Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides told reporters: “The first ship has begun its return to Cyprus, and we are ready to send the second ship.”

The second cargo ship is in the port of Larnaca awaiting a signal to sail, carrying 240 tons of aid, including bulk products.

Additionally, WCK said it will carry two forklifts and a crane to assist with future sea deliveries to Gaza.

If this naval mission is deemed successful, other aid ships are likely to follow as part of an international effort to deliver more aid to Gaza. The ships will use a newly opened sea route to travel directly to the region.

Separately, the United States plans to build its own floating dock off the coast to boost sea deliveries. The White House says it could see two million meals a day entering Gaza, but while a military ship is on its way with equipment on board to build the dock, questions remain about the logistics of the plan.

The World Food Program was forced to temporarily halt ground deliveries after convoys came under fire and looting. The airdrop operation turned deadly last week when five people were reportedly killed when a parachute malfunctioned and they were hit by the aid package.

The Israeli army continued its attacks throughout the Gaza Strip, with at least 36 people reportedly killed after bombing a house near the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza.

This comes at a time when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved plans to launch an attack on the southern city of Rafah, which houses more than a million displaced people.

Negotiations on a ceasefire in Gaza are still ongoing. On Friday, Israel rejected the latest proposal made by Hamas.

Hamas said it had given the mediators a “comprehensive vision” for the truce, but Netanyahu described this as “unrealistic,” but agreed to send Israeli negotiators to Qatar.

Reuters news agency quoted a source close to the talks as saying that Israeli intelligence chief David Barnea is expected to meet with the Qatari prime minister and Egyptian officials in Doha on Sunday to resolve “the remaining gaps between Israel and Hamas.”

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