Palestine has assigned Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki to look into the details of the proposed sea corridor between Cyprus and the Gaza Strip.
The weekly cabinet meeting in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank discussed the corridor, according to a Palestine government statement.
“We objected to the sea corridor agreed upon between Cyprus and Israel,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told the cabinet.
“This is because we have suspicions that the ships operated by Cyprus could be used to remove our people from Gaza.” He added that the Palestinian Authority has not heard anything from Cyprus rejecting these suspicions.
“We have not received assurances from them that these ships will not be part of Israel’s plan [to remove Palestinians from Gaza].”
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said on 20 December that Foreign Minister Eli Cohen discussed the opening of a sea corridor to Gaza with his Greek-administration Cypriot counterpart, Constantinos Kombos. The statement indicated that within the scope of the planned sea corridor, humanitarian aid sent to Gaza would undergo inspection under Israeli coordination at the multi-purpose centre established at the Larnaca Port before being sent directly to Gaza without passing through Israel. According to Cohen, the corridor would contribute to Israel’s economic withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
Humanitarian organisations affiliated with the UN have drawn attention to the lack of housing and shelters for civilians forcibly displaced in the Gaza Strip, where 1.9 million out of the total population of 2.3 million have been displaced due to Israeli attacks. The UN has highlighted the challenges of hunger, lack of clean water, the risk of epidemic diseases and the inadequacy of humanitarian aid in Gaza.
After the Israeli military expanded its land occupation in Gaza, the Kerem Shalom Crossing, through which goods entered Gaza from Israel, was closed. Humanitarian aid entering Gaza from the Rafah border crossing in Egypt is subject to Israeli control.