Israel-Gaza: First seaborne aid reaches Gaza shores

  • By Ian Casey & Lipica Pelham
  • BBC News

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The dinghies were used to push provisions from the Open Arms ship to a purpose-built jetty.

First maritime humanitarian aid ship to Gaza disembarks.

World Central Kitchen, the American charity behind the mission, is carrying out the mission in collaboration with the United Arab Emirates.

The ship was carrying 200 tonnes of much-needed food for Gaza, which the UN says is on the brink of famine.

Aid agencies accused Israel of blocking aid, a charge Israeli officials strongly denied.

They say Israel allows aid through two crossings in the south and blame aid agencies for logistical failures.

Much of the Gaza Strip was destroyed during Israeli military operations that began on October 7 after Hamas gunmen attacked southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages.

More than 31,400 people have been killed in Gaza so far, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

The shipment arrived on Saturday aboard the Spanish charity ship Open Arms. Its inventory includes beans, carrots, canned tuna, chickpeas, canned corn, parboiled rice, flour, oil, salt, and date plates that have spiritual significance during Ramadan.

It was raided by Israeli authorities at a port in Cyprus.

It marks the beginning of an experiment to see if sea route is more effective than air and land delivery.

Aid agencies have repeatedly warned that no relief method is as effective as providing it by land, but they say Israeli restrictions are only getting a fraction of what is needed.

In a statement, World Central Kitchen (WCK) said: “All shipments are being loaded and are being prepared for distribution in Gaza.”

Crews worked through the night to get help on dry land.

Gaza does not have a functioning port, so a jetty off the coast was built by WCK's team.

However, there are few details on how aid delivery will work, the UN said.

Earlier, the founder of WCK, celebrity chef Jose Andrés, Wrote in X (Ex-Twitter) All the food aid from the boat was loaded onto 12 trucks.

“We did it!” He wrote that it was a test to see if the next ship could bring in even more aid — up to “thousands of tons a week.”

In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said troops had been deployed to protect the coastal area.

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Gaza was helped ashore from the boat

The delivery was highly anticipated since the ship left Larnaca port on Tuesday.

If this sea mission is deemed successful, other aid ships will follow as part of an international effort to get more aid into Gaza. Ships will sail directly to the area using the newly opened sea route.

Separately, the US plans to build its own floating docks off the coast to increase sea supplies. The White House says it could see two million meals a day enter Gaza, but questions remain about the logistics of the plan, with a military ship carrying equipment on board to build the docks.

The World Food Program had to temporarily halt its land distribution as convoys came under fire and looting. An airdrop turned fatal last week when five people were reportedly killed when a parachute malfunctioned and they were hit by an aid pack.

The Israeli military continues its offensive across the Gaza Strip, with at least 36 people reportedly killed in an attack on a house near the Nusirat refugee camp in central Gaza.

It comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved plans to attack the southern city of Rafah, which is home to more than a million displaced people.

A cease-fire is being negotiated in Gaza. On Friday, Israel rejected Hamas' latest plan.

Hamas said it had offered mediators a “comprehensive vision” of a ceasefire, but Mr Netanyahu called it “unrealistic”.

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