Cyprus Mail

Americans to complete Gaza jetty ‘in 15 days’ (Update 2)

aid ship returns to cyprus after ngo workers killed
The Open Arms aid ship leaving Larnaca

The temporary jetty which is being constructed off the coast of Gaza to facilitate the receipt of aid under Cyprus’ Amalthea plan “will be completed within 15 days”, it was learned on Friday.

The Cyprus News Agency (CNA) said it had been told by diplomatic sources that American forces are continuing their works to build a temporary jetty, and that work will be completed by April 20.

They added that “having such a structure will allow ships to travel faster to Gaza since they will not need to carry a platform loaded with equipment and will not be dependent on the weather.

They will also be able to carry larger quantities of humanitarian aid and unload it in a much shorter time.”

However, despite the seemingly positive development, questions remain regarding the future feasibility of the humanitarian aid corridor from Cyprus to Gaza.

The Spanish charity Open Arms had announced late on Thursday night that it would suspend its operations in Gaza following the killing of seven aid workers from the NGO World Central Kitchen (WCK) on Monday, two days after WCK had done the same.

Open Arms had supplied the first ship, which goes by the same name, which set sail from Cyprus as part of its Amalthea humanitarian aid corridor to Gaza in March.

Theirs was then one of the three ships which set sail on the mission last week which ended with seven aid workers being killed and 240 tonnes of aid being returned to the island.

“We demand answers and accountability for this unacceptable attack,” Open Arms director Oscar Camps said, which he also described as an “unthinkable act”.

He added that Gaza is a “dystopian laboratory where people’s blood flows while war technologies are tested and perfected, directed by increasingly automated algorithms that allow all human responsibility to be diluted, using technology and trivialising evil.

How much more humanity must be lost in this genocide?” he asked.

A later statement from Open Arms said, “This attack, perpetrated by the Israeli Defence Forces last Monday, marks a painful turning point in our efforts to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”

Early on Friday morning, Israel announced that humanitarian aid deliveries would temporarily be allowed to enter Gaza via the Ashdod port and then over land into Gaza through the Erez crossing at Gaza’s northern edge.

Such a move would place the Amalthea plan further into doubt, with the usefulness of a humanitarian aid corridor through Cyprus at best questionable if aid can now dock at a fully-functional port around 40 kilometres from Gaza.

The Israeli government said it was doing so to “ensure the continuation” of its military operations in the area and came after a telephone conversation between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and United States President Joe Biden.

Biden had on Thursday threatened to condition continued support for Israel’s offensive in Gaza on it taking concrete steps to protect aid workers and civilians. The warning marks the first time he has threatened to condition aid.

The White House said Biden had “made clear the need for Israel to announce and implement a series of specific, concrete, and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers” during his half-hour telephone call with Netanyahu.

It added that Biden had “made clear that US policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps.”

Later, the White House welcomed the moves to open the Ashdod port and the Erez crossing, but spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said they “must now be fully and rapidly implemented.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday was positive but cautious regarding the opening of Ashdod and Erez, saying “really, the proof is in the results, and we will see those unfold in the coming days, in the coming weeks.”

He added that Washington will be “closely looking” at metrics including the number of lorries making their way into Gaza and the evolution of famine risks.

Additionally, he said Israel needs to make sure Gaza’s population is protected from airstrikes by “maximising every effort to protect civilians.”

We just can’t have so many people caught in the crossfire killed and injured going forward,” he said.

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