Cyprus was gearing to send around 150 tonnes of aid to Gaza on Sunday afternoon, after it received the final seal of approval from Israel.

The state broadcaster at 8pm said that although the vessel was set to depart from Larnaca port in the afternoon, “technical difficulties” had delayed the operation.

As such, it may in fact set off on Monday morning.

President Nikos Christodoulides made it clear the time of the vessel’s departure would not be made public for security reasons.

Shortly after 5pm on Sunday, government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said the vessel with humanitarian aid would depart from Larnaca “in the next few hours.

The shipment is made as part of Cyprus’ maritime humanitarian corridor ‘Amalthia’.

Letymbiotis stressed to CNA that the government was coordinating with Israel on the matter, which has put in place requests for inspections.

“The vessel has been inspected, as required, by Cyprus’ authorities in accordance with all the protocols included in the planning.”

He added Cyprus “is in continuous contact with all involved parties aiming to achieve a reliable corridor for the unhindered provision of humanitarian aid to the civilian population of Gaza.”

The trip is expected to take two days until the aid reaches Gaza, and the vessel will carry an MMS Aris floating unit, as Gaza has no port structure.

Lior Haiat, spokesperson for Israel’s foreign ministry, said on X “the Cypriot initiative will allow the increase of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, after a security check according to Israeli standards.”

On Saturday, US charity World Central Kitchen posted on X: “the pallets are filled with desperately-needed ingredients and ready-to-eat food for Palestinian families facing starvation,”

Members of the charity’s team have been in Larnaca for weeks preparing for the first shipment, working with NGO Open Arms, the UAE and Cyprus.

“The maritime aid corridor will immediately allow us to scale our efforts and reach more families in northern Gaza.”

Earlier in the day, Letymbiotis said President Nikos Christodoulides had begun planning the initiative in October, with the help of Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos and his team.

It has since been recognised by the EU, US, UAE and the UK, Letymbiotis underlined. The aid corridor is supported by Greece, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, he added.

“The reports in the international press in recent days put our country at the center stage. A Cyprus that takes initiatives with leading action and plays a leading role in the effort to address an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in our own neighborhood.

During a speech on Saturday evening, Christodoulides said the government has received a series of calls from heads of states, governments and foreign ministers who expressed their desire to participate in this initiative.

He added that Cyprus, as a member state of the European Union, maintains “excellent relations” with all neighbouring states in the region and tries within its capabilities to contribute to addressing such challenges.

“I believe that this development shows that our country can be a pillar of security and stability in the wider Eastern Mediterranean region, a region of particular geostrategic importance, always modestly and humbly,” Christodoulides said.