NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus will present its plan for a humanitarian sea corridor to Gaza when the Cypriot president meets other EU heads of state in Paris at an international donor conference for the besieged Palestinian enclave on Nov. 9, an official said Tuesday.
Government spokesman Constantinos Letymbiotis told reporters the initiative to ship aid from the eastern Mediterranean island will be discussed at length during the conference, which will also seek to address Gaza’s pressing needs including water, electricity and fuel supply.
Last week, senior U.N. officials said the average Palestinian in Gaza was living on two pieces of bread a day, while only one of three water supply lines from Israel was operational. More than 1.5 million Palestinians have been displaced in Gaza by the Israeli offensive launched in the wake of Oct. 7, when Hamas attacked Israel, killing 1,400 people.
President Nikos Christodoulides said Tuesday the initiative aims for a “sustained, secure high-volume flow of humanitarian assistance to Gaza in the immediate, medium and long term.” Ships would deliver the aid to Gaza from Cyprus’ main port of Limassol, some 255 miles away (410 kilometers.)
Christodoulides said his government is working with neighboring countries including Israel, Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority as well as the US, France, the EU and the UN to set the initiative in motion.
To address Israeli security concerns, the aid would be inspected at its departure point to ensure nothing is delivered that Hamas, which runs Gaza, could weaponize in its war with Israel. Hamas is on the EU and US lists of terrorist organizations.
Christodoulides met briefly with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday at Larnaca airport, on the south coast of Cyprus, where they discussed the initiative.
“What I can tell you is the (Christodoulides-Blinken) meeting in and of itself shows how much importance the U.S. also attaches to the Cyprus Republic’s initiative,” Letymbiotis said.