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Aid ship to use new route to bring vital humanitarian support from Europe to Gaza

The ship belonging to the Open Arms aid group is seen docked, as it prepares to ferry some 200 tonnes of rice and flour directly to Gaza (AP)
The ship belonging to the Open Arms aid group is seen docked, as it prepares to ferry some 200 tonnes of rice and flour directly to Gaza (AP)

A vessel is set to use a new shipping route to bring much-needed humanitarian aid from Europe to Gaza this weekend.

The Spanish boat, run by the Open Arms aid group, is scheduled to set sail from Cyprus, the nearest EU nation to the embattled enclave.

Gaza currently has no functioning port and shallow waters which could potentially give the ship difficulties, although Joe Biden said on Friday that a port is set to be established. The US president has said that a pier will be built to allow more food, medicine and other essential items into the territory.

Open Arms’s voyage will test the maritime corridor which has been established for the purpose of sending aid to Gaza, with the UK and US both playing a role.

The ship could set sail on Sunday (AP)
The ship could set sail on Sunday (AP)

The ship has been waiting at Larnaca for permission to deliver food aid from World Central Kitchen, a US charity founded by celebrity chef José Andrés.

The United Arab Emirates ambassador to the US, Yousef Al Otaiba, said the exact timing of the pilot shipment by sea depended on conditions, but said Sunday looked favourable.

The UAE funded the operation and worked directly with the Israelis in getting the shipment ready without issues, he said.

World Central Kitchen prepared the boat in Cyprus with 200 tons of rice, flour and proteins that will soon be ready to leave for Gaza, and an additional 500 tons of aid is in Cyprus and ready to follow, spokeswoman Chloe Mata Crane said in a statement.

Supplies are essential, with the UN claiming that one quarter of Gaza’s population is on the brink of famine and that children are starving to death.

The supplies are especially needed after Hamas left Cairo on Thursday with no ceasefire deal in place despite international hope that an agreement could be met.

Israel is reportedly refusing to participate until Hamas provides a list of hostages who are still alive.

The deal presented to Hamas for Gaza would free some of the hostages it still holds following the October 7 attack, in which Israel said 1,200 people were killed and 253 abducted. Palestinian prisoners held in Israel would also be released.