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Foreign minister to return to Israel to discuss aid to Gaza

newborns taken off incubators in gaza's al shifa hospital after power outage [Photo source: Reuters]
Premature infants placed on a bed without incubators in Gaza's Al Shifa hospital after power loss due to fuel shortage, November 12, 2023 [Photo source: Reuters]

Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos will return to Israel on Thursday to continue discussions on how to effectively implement a humanitarian maritime corridor from the island to Gaza.

The minister is expected to travel to Tel Aviv with a group of technocrats to discuss the matter with Israeli officials, Cyprus Ambassador to Israel, Cornelius Corneliou told state broadcaster CyBC on Wednesday morning.

Technocrats had already visited with officials from the Israeli foreign ministry on Sunday to lay the groundwork for the upcoming meeting, Corneliou said.

The main focus remains the appeasement of Israel’s security concerns regarding any cargo to be shipped and safeguarding distribution procedures.

Asked how close the mooted corridor was to being implemented, Corneliou reiterated that a green light was awaited from Israel.

“We have offered our readiness for Cyprus to use its resources to act as an exit point for supplies and aid,” he said. Thereafter, the matter rests with Israel’s stated intention to abolish terrorist organisation Hamas before ending hostilities.

“We are preparing for the ‘next day’, the ‘next day’ is just as important for the Palestinians,” Corneliou added. He noted that daily pauses are in effect to enable Palestinians to evacuate from imminently dangerous areas to other parts of Gaza.

Truly effective supply of humanitarian aid to Palestine, however, would necessitate a far more protracted end to hostilities.

On Tuesday, Government Spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said officials had detailed a 25-page plan describing all possible scenarios in depth.

There was a short-term, medium-term, and long-term scenario of how to safely deploy aid to Gaza, he said.

The short-term concerns transfer of aid from Larnaca to the beach in Gaza via landing craft. The medium-term plan was the creation of a floating platform, which was also being considered, and in the long term, the creation of a closed port in the wider area, the spokesman said.

Asked where the technical means would be found for boats to approach the shores of Gaza, Letymbiotis said there would be technical issues because the plan was complex, extensive, and unprecedented, not only for Cyprus but also for the region. The contribution of other states would be necessary, he added.

Meanwhile, Italy is waiting to enter Gaza to install a field hospital. The hospital ship Vulcano that Italy sent last week is currently off the coast of Cyprus waiting for required authorisations to move towards the coast of Gaza or an agreement for maritime humanitarian corridors to transport patients.

On Tuesday it was reported that Britain is also considering sending aid from Cyprus to the Palestinian population, via air or sea, from its bases on the island.

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