Cyprus-Israel in ‘final stage’ of opening Gaza aid corridor

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President Nikos Christodoulides said Friday that Cyprus and Israel were in the final stages of agreeing to a humanitarian air corridor from the island to besieged Gaza.

“We are in contact with Israel to implement some final arrangements, if you like,” President Christodoulides told reporters.

He said technical details of the maritime corridor are being discussed with Israel and the United Nations.

Christodoulides has also spoken with UN general-secretary Antonio Guterres about the structure of the humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The idea is to bolster humanitarian relief provided to the Gaza Strip by importing large volumes by ship rather than the limited deliveries by truck through the Rafah crossing with Egypt.

But the Cypriot president gave no time frame for when a maritime operation may be up and running.

“We should not apply timeframes.

“What matters is that specific discussions on the initiative of the Republic of Cyprus – an initiative acknowledged by the international community – started on technical details,” said Christodoulides.

He said he contacted German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday, “we are moving toward the implementation stage when all the data is in place”.

Cyprus argues its proposal enhances the role of the European Union as it is the nearest member state to the Middle East.

“The initiative sends a message we want action, not just words, to show that we are a pillar of security and stability in the region,” said Christodoulides.

Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos visited Tel Aviv on Thursday to discuss the Gaza initiative.

He told reporters Friday: “The security of the cargo is intertwined with the security of Israel, without whose consent there can be no corridor.”

Supplies of water, electricity, fuel and food were cut off to the impoverished and densely populated territory in the aftermath of the October 7 Hamas attacks.

The health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip says relentless Israeli bombing since then has killed more than 11,100 people in the Palestinian territory, mainly civilians and many children.

Under Nicosia’s plan, aid would be collected, inspected and stored in Cyprus and then sent to Gaza on vessels checked daily by a joint committee including Israel.

The vessels would be accompanied by warships to a designated spot identified on the coast of Gaza, from where it would be sent to a safe, neutral area.

Cyprus has also served as a transit hub for foreign nationals evacuated from Israel since the Hamas incursion on Israel that Israeli officials say killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians.