The first humanitarian aid packages for Gaza will arrive in Cyprus on Wednesday and will be sent to the besieged strip within days, the government said on Tuesday.
A team of specialists is expected to go to Qatar immediately to discuss the technicalities of getting the aid into Gaza.
Speaking on Tuesday morning, deputy government spokesman Yiannis Antoniou said the port of Larnaca would be used to send the aid on to Gaza due to its proximity to the airport. Most countries set to use Cyprus’ humanitarian corridor will send aid by plane to Cyprus.
Antoniou added that during a meeting in Qatar on Monday, the Emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani told President Nikos Christodoulides that his country would be willing to assist in sending medical and nursing personnel to Gaza via Cyprus.
According to the current plans, those staff will be based on a French floating hospital that will anchor off the coast of Gaza.
Antoniou spoke to Cybc about the details of the first shipment, saying aid would be sent by ship from Cyprus to either an Egyptian port near to Gaza or on smaller ships that can reach the coast. Gaza has no port.
He added that the first aid meant to go through maritime corridor proposed by Cyprus would be arriving on the island on Wednesday. This aid will then be taken Larnaca port where aid from Cyprus itself will be added.
After being collected and all the technical details of the corridor are worked out – the ship and the route – the aid will be sent on.
In earlier comments to CNA, Antoniou said that Al Thani reportedly told Christodoulides that Qatari personnel could also be deployed to Larnaca to work in the reception and sorting of humanitarian goods arriving on the island, as well as for beefing up Larnaca’s port infrastructure.
Speaking further on the humanitarian corridor at a daily press briefing, Government Spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said that the plans had moved from the political level to a technical level.
He said that Cyprus’ plan could work and ensure that long term humanitarian aid can be provided to Gaza.
Asked to comment on why the team from Qatar would be coming, he said: “There was immense interest in implementing the initiative, whose complexity requires the involvement of as many states and international organisation as possible.”
Commenting on the matter of how Israel received the proposal, Letymbiotis said: “We are in constant consultation with Israel so that they can put down all the technical issues that need to be resolved for the implementation of the [maritime] corridor.”
He pointed out that the initial position of Israel is known, and that they were approaching the issue positively.
“On our part, very thorough planning was done to be able to implement the proposal when the conditions allow,” he said.
He added that Cyprus’ proposal for the maritime corridor had received wide-ranging acceptance as it was feasible and ensured the long-term provision of aid to Gaza.
In mid-November Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos said that Cyprus and Israel had agreed to a structured dialogue with working groups from each side to thrash out details.
Cyprus has been pushing its idea for a humanitarian corridor since Israel began its offensive on Gaza in response to the terror attack by Hamas on October 7 that saw 1,200 killed in Israel and the taking of over 200 hostages. The rooting out of the group that has been running Gaza since 2007 has not only killed more than 11,000 Palestinians but created a humanitarian crisis in the narrow strip.
The idea for the Cyprus-Gaza corridor has been mooted in the EU and in the UN, and with Israel but the latter has security concerns.
Kombos said according to Cyprus’ proposal, the flow would be one-way and would not involve the movement of persons.