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Efforts to deliver aid to Gaza by sea continue


DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — A U.S. Army ship carrying equipment needed to build a temporary pier in Gaza sailed toward the Mediterranean on Sunday, three days after U.S. President Joe Biden announced plans to increase seaborne aid deliveries to the besieged region. he set off. where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians go hungry.

The new appeal for help comes in the final hours before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which could begin as early as Sunday evening, depending on moon sighting. Hopes of a new ceasefire by Ramadan faded days ago as talks seemingly stalled.

The opening of the sea corridor, along with air assistance from the United States, Jordan and others, showed growing alarm over the deadly humanitarian crisis in Gaza and a new willingness to bypass Israel’s control over land shipments. Israel said it welcomed deliveries by sea and would inspect cargo destined for Gaza before it left a storage area near Cyprus.

But aid officials say deliveries by air and sea cannot make up for the shortfall in land supply routes. The daily number of aid trucks entering Gaza by land in the last five months has remained well below the 500 aid trucks entering before the war.

A ship owned by Spanish aid group Open Arms carrying 200 tonnes of food aid is expected to make a pilot voyage to test the corridor “as soon as possible,” said Linda Roth, a spokeswoman for partner organization World Central Kitchen. The ship remained in the Cypriot port of Larnaca in what Roth called “a rapidly evolving and volatile situation.”

Biden has stepped up his public criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying he believes Netanyahu is “harming Israel rather than helping it” with his approach to the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, now in its sixth month.

Speaking to MSNBC on Saturday, the US president expressed support for Israel’s right to pursue Hamas following the Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, but said Netanyahu “should have paid more attention to the innocent lives that were lost.” “You can’t let another 30,000 Palestinians die,” he added.

Gaza’s Health Ministry said at least 31,045 Palestinians have been killed since the war began. The ministry does not distinguish between civilians and combatants in the count, but says two-thirds of the dead are women and children. The ministry is part of the Hamas-run government, and figures from previous wars largely match those from the UN and independent experts.

Palestinian losses continued to increase. At least nine Palestinians, including children, were killed in an Israeli airstrike on a house in Gaza late Saturday, the Ministry of Civil Defense said. In the shared footage, a rescuer is seen placing the body of a dead baby on the sofa in the middle of the rubble.

Elsewhere, the bodies of 15 people, including women and children, were taken to the main hospital in the central town of Deir al-Balah on Sunday, according to an Associated Press reporter. Relatives said he was killed by Israeli artillery fire at a tent camp set up for displaced Palestinians in the coastal area near the southern city of Khan Younis.

Israel rarely comments on specific events during the war. The group argues that Hamas is responsible for civilian casualties because it operates from civilian areas.

Meanwhile, the United States’ efforts to establish a temporary pier for sea delivery in Gaza have also begun. The first U.S. Army ship, Gen. Frank S. Besson, left its base in Virginia on Saturday and headed for the Eastern Mediterranean with construction equipment, U.S. Central Command said.

U.S. officials said it would likely take weeks for the pier to become operational.

The maritime corridor is supported by the European Union, as well as the United States, the United Arab Emirates and other countries. The European Commission said UN agencies and the Red Cross would play a role.

The ship in Cyprus is expected to take two to three days to arrive at an undisclosed location. A spokesman for World Central Kitchen said construction work began on the pier at an undisclosed location in Gaza on Sunday.

A member of the aid agency said on its former Twitter account, The focal point of Israel’s military offensive.

Israel declared war on October 7 after Hamas killed nearly 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took 250 hostages. Israeli air and ground strikes have devastated large parts of Gaza and displaced nearly 80% of the population of 2.3 million.

The United States and regional mediators Egypt and Qatar had hoped for a six-week ceasefire by Ramadan, but Hamas is awaiting assurances that a temporary ceasefire would lead to an end to hostilities.

Mediators had hoped to ease some of the immediate crisis with a temporary ceasefire that would allow Hamas to release some Israeli hostages, Israel to release some Palestinian prisoners and aid groups to be given access to a massive aid flow into Gaza.

Samy Magdy reported from Cairo. Menelaos Hadjicostis contributed to this report from Nicosia, Cyprus.


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