The plan to deliver aid by sea has big hurdles to jump

The Status of the Gaza Harbor: Security, Distribution, and a High-Fidelity Monitor of Palestinian Populations since the Beginning of the War

Over 30,000 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war. The tally does not distinguish between civilians and enemies, but it does say women and children make up two-thirds of the dead. The Hamas-run government’s figures have largely mirrored those of the U.N. and independent experts from previous wars.

On the eve of Ramadan, hungry Gaza residents scrambled for packages of food supplies dropped by U.S. and Jordanian military planes — a method of delivery that humanitarian groups call deeply inadequate compared to ground deliveries. The daily number of aid trucks entering Gaza has been far lower since the war started because of Israeli restrictions.

President Biden told reporters Friday that the Israelis would provide security at the port. He did not elaborate further, and there was no immediate comment by Israeli officials.

Security and distribution: It is also unclear who will manage and secure the temporary port area and the convoys of trucks that would be needed to distribute the aid.

One proposal on the table would be for private Palestinian contractors to handle the distribution while coordinating with the United Nations, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation.

The presence of the Israeli military in the convoys would pose a challenge to the UN since they would be seen as too close to any side. The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, for example, “does not provide any assistance anywhere with the presence of the Israeli Army nor does it ask it to provide security for its convoys,” said Juliette Touma, the agency’s director of communications.

The Israeli military acknowledged firing at members of the crowd who approached them “in a threatening manner,” but said most of the victims were trampled in a crush of people trying to seize the cargo.

Some people have called for Israel to open Ashdod in order to allow international aid to flow into the enclave. The harbor is already largely equipped to scan and process aid deliveries. Israel allowed some shipments of flour and other goods in January after the U.S. pressure.

Two Western diplomats briefed on the project said they were told the full cost could be tens of millions of dollars over six months, although it was unclear whether that was just the port itself or included the cost of the intended supply shipments as well. The United Arab Emirates and Britain have both decided to support the project, although they haven’t said how much they will contribute.

It will be expensive and time-Consuming to build the floating pier. Gazans need more aid, as the project could take as long as 60 days to complete. United Nations officials warn that famine is imminent in the enclave.

The U.S. response to Israel’s indiscriminate military campaign on Gaza has been criticized by some experts and its relations with the UN

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the U.S. executive body, said Friday that officials planned to test the process in the coming days. It was not immediately known how or where any ships would distribute their cargo in the midst of Israeli bombardment and attacks on aid trucks.

An international plan to bring desperately needed food, water and medicine to Gazans by boat will face enormous logistical challenges, diplomats and aid officials say, making the proposition both expensive and likely to take some time.

Oscar Camps said a ship pulling a barge with 200 tons of rice and flour would take up to three days to arrive at an undisclosed location where World Central Kitchen was building a pier to receive it.

United States officials said it will likely be weeks before the pier is operational. The executive director of Doctors Without Borders’ U.S arm criticized the U.S. proposal as a “glaring distraction from the real problem” of Israel’s indiscriminate military campaign.

Siggling Kaag, the U. UN’s senior humanitarian and reconstruction official for Gaza, stated that air and sea deliveries don’t suffice for a shortage of supply routes on land.

International mediators had hoped to alleviate some of the immediate crisis with a six-week cease-fire, which would have seen Hamas release some of the Israeli hostages it’s holding, Israel release some Palestinian prisoners and aid groups be given access for a major influx of assistance into Gaza.

Palestinian militants are believed to be holding around 100 hostages and the remains of 30 others captured during the Oct. 7 attack. Several dozen hostages were freed in a weeklong November truce.

Some 300 people have been killed there, most of them fighters with Hezbollah and other groups, but also about 40 civilians. At least 19 people have been killed on the Israeli side.

Near-daily clashes have been happening in the Lebanon-Israel border area between the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Israeli forces in the past five months.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resumes funding the U.N. aid agency for Palestinians in the war against Hamas on the Gaza Strip

The new opening of the sea delivery corridor and the airdrops showed a growing impatience with the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and a willingness to work around Israeli restrictions. The EU, the United States, the United Arab Emirates and other countries support the sea corridor. The European Commission has said that U.N. agencies and the Red Cross will also play a role.

President Joe Biden said Saturday that he believes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is “hurting Israel more than helping Israel” in how he is approaching its war against Hamas in Gaza. Although the U.S. leader supports Israel’s right to pursue Hamas, he said that Netanyahu needs to pay more attention to the innocent lives being lost as a result of actions taken.

The Health Ministry in Gaza said that two more people, including a 2-month-old infant, had died as a result of malnutrition, raising the total dying from hunger in the war to 25. Ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra said the toll included only people brought to hospitals.

The U.S. military said that its planes airdropped more than 41,000 “meal equivalents” and 23,000 bottles of water into northern Gaza, the hardest part of the enclave to access.

“The issue of aid is brutal and no one accepts it,” said another resident, Momen Mahra, claiming that most airdropped aid falls into the sea. “We want better methods.”

The situation in Gaza is dire, with the needs acute, according to Swedish development minister Johannes Forssell. UNRWA will receive less than half of the $38 million funding that Sweden promised this year.

The EU and Canada followed Sweden in funding the UN agency that helps 2 million people in Gaza.

Source: Sweden and Canada resume funding the U.N. aid agency for Palestinians

Associated Press: “Failing to leave Cyprus without a trace”: A top donor to the U.N. agency aiding Palestinians

Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides told reporters late Saturday that the ship would depart “within the next 24 hours.” World Central Kitchen founder José Andrés told The Associated Press that all necessary permits, including from Israel, had been secured, and circumstances delaying departure were primarily weather-related.

As a ship carrying humanitarian aid was about to leave Cyprus for Gaza, Sweden made a U-Turn, just as international donors started to set up a sea corridor to supply the besieged territory.

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Another top donor to the U.N. agency aiding Palestinians said Saturday that it would resume funding, weeks after more than a dozen countries halted hundreds of millions of dollars of support in response to Israeli allegations against the organization.

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