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Challenges persist for Gaza aid corridor

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Despite widespread support in Europe, Cyprus’ proposal for a maritime humanitarian corridor to Gaza faces practical challenges related to the port situation in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The absence of a sizable port in Gaza has led to considerations of alternative solutions, such as constructing a temporary floating structure at sea.

A source from Brussels told Kathimerini Cyprus edition that while Cyprus’ proposal is a “clear and to the point plan, which has been welcomed by the European Commission, the implementation timetable remains uncertain”.

The “Amaltheia initiative,” as presented by President Nikos Christodoulides last week in Paris, aims to directly transfer aid by sea to Gaza, addressing needs not adequately covered through existing channels.

Nicosia’s proposal has received public support from EU leading figures such as the President of the European Council, Charles Michel and the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.

However, concerns from Israel about potential risks, such as the transfer of military equipment or aid reaching Hamas, have been raised.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis acknowledges the challenges in implementing the initiative but expressed an intention to participate with specific conditions.

The “most difficult aspect”, according to Mitsotakis “, is to determine an appropriate disembarkation zone in southern Gaza, to create the necessary port infrastructure and to ensure the safety of the route.”

While various leaders, including France, Jordan, Belgium, Croatia, the Netherlands, and Greece, have expressed readiness to provide maritime resources, ongoing discussions and practical considerations are necessary for the proposal’s advancement.

Approval from Israel will also be needed.

The absence of ongoing talks with Israel adds a layer of uncertainty to the timeline for implementation, according to EU sources.

The proposal involves five stages, including aid transfer in Cyprus, inspection and inventory, vessel loading, sea transfer with a warship escort, and aid reception in Gaza with the involvement of international organisations and the Palestinian Authority.

Cyprus proposes the creation of a secure, fully monitored hub and maritime corridor through which aid can be sent to Gaza in high volumes and with high frequency, Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos told the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on Monday.

Three underlying factors support Cyprus’s approach, Kombos said: “First, geographical proximity to Gaza, secondly the pre-existing infrastructure in Cyprus and finally, the strategic relations with key stakeholders in the region creating political trust.”

“We have opened this discussion and will continue working for a positive outcome,” Kombos said.

“We hope to increase the support we already have”.