Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos warned of “catastrophic consequences” should Israel make any moves in Rafah, while he stressed the importance of aid reaching Gaza, in a meeting with his Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Maliki.

Maliki was on an official visit to Cyprus for a bilateral meeting with Kombos at the foreign ministry. He also met with President Nikos Christodoulides.

Kombos’ statements to the press after their talks carefully omitted the term “humanitarian aid corridor” despite how much Cyprus has touted its own initiative to send aid from Larnaca to Gaza via sea.

Palestine has made no secret of the fact that it fears Israel may instrumentalise this corridor to displace Palestinians in Gaza.

Instead, Kombos referred only to “the importance of getting more humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza” and stressed that “Cyprus rejects, in the most absolute terms, the displacement of Palestinians from Gaza.”

‘This war is unlike anything else’

Maliki said Wednesday marks 131 days of the war where the number of dead exceeded 28,000 and almost 70,000 injured. The majority are women and children, he specified.

Maliki added that “the destruction of Gaza is incomparable to any war, in any place, at any time in history. The number of bombs dropped in Gaza in four months exceeded any number of bombs dropped anywhere.”

He also said that what is required “is to stand up, stand responsible and act in a way that this catastrophe should reach an end.” He noted that 28,000 innocent people dead is more than enough and “we cannot wait until the number doubles or triples.”

It is a collective obligation “to move fast to end this situation,” he stressed,

Cyprus, as a sovereign country, a member of the European Union and the international community, “is doing its utmost,” Maliki underlined.

Fears of global implications

Kombos addressed Cyprus’ “financial contribution of €1.1 million and 10 tonnes of medical aid donation to the Gaza Strip in the past few weeks.”

This was an unnamed reference to the British RFA Lyme Bay ship, which was lauded as the launch of Cyprus’ maritime humanitarian corridor.

The ambition fell flat however, as the ship was unable to dock in Israel for two weeks and ultimately went to Port Said along with the rest of the international aid.

Kombos stressed both ministers “agree that the escalating humanitarian needs, call for a scaled up, unhindered flow of aid”.

Cyprus foreign minister underlined this was the fifth time he met with Maliki in the last six months, where “discussions were dominated by the developments in the Middle East”.

He described the unfolding situation as “not just another chapter of the long-standing conflict. Instead we are witnessing a transformative series of events that have regional but also global implications.”

Cyprus calls for restraint

Kombos shared four points in an attempt to clarify Cyprus’ “consistent approach” where he specified all civilians and civilian infrastructures must be fully protected and respected in line with international law.

“Given the gravity of the situation on the ground, we echo the multiple calls for restraint and upholding the sanctity of life. Any move in Rafah, which hosts 1.4 million people, most of them displaced, will have catastrophic consequences that would be irreversible.”

The second point Kombos sought to put forth is that the release of all hostages immediately is instrumental to ending the conflict. He expressed his hope that ongoing negotiations will be successful.

“It is also important to remember that Hamas, a terrorist group, does not represent the Palestinian people. Their acts on October the 7th are condemned without reservation and are not in any way to be associated with the Palestinian cause for self-determination,” Kombos underlined.

Settler violence condemned

His third point conveyed Cyprus’ concern that the conflict may spread to other areas, leading to a regional spillover with unprecedented consequences.

“We condemn the continued settler violence in the West Bank, which undermines the prospects of a viable diplomatic way out of the crisis.”

Fourthly, the only sustained way forward is the revival of the Middle East Peace Process and the reemergence of the political horizon, on the basis of the two-state solution, in line with the UN Security Council resolutions, Kombos stressed.

Cyprus has repeatedly stressed the humanitarian corridor will only be a one-way ship to send aid. Sources recently told the Cyprus Mail that despite concerns by the Palestinian Authority over the much-touted maritime humanitarian corridor, the government aims to plough on with the idea regardless.

UK’s Foreign Secretary David Cameron last month sunk Cyprus’ maritime humanitarian corridor ambitions, after he told the House of Lords “the best way to get aid into Gaza is through trucks.”

He told MPs that supplying aid to Gaza via the beach is “an extremely difficult option”.