On Thursday, President Nikos Christodoulides of Cyprus presented a comprehensive 25-page proposal at a humanitarian conference in Paris, outlining plans to establish a maritime corridor for delivering aid to Gaza. The proposed corridor would operate from the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, the closest European Union member state located approximately 370 km (230 miles) away from Gaza.
President Christodoulides expressed the hope of swift implementation, emphasizing the urgency of the plan. The objective is to augment the capacity for humanitarian relief to the Gaza Strip, extending beyond the limited deliveries through the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza initiated during Israel’s air and ground offensive.
However, diplomats cautioned that the proposal faces challenges on logistical, political, and security fronts. Deliveries through the Rafah crossing commenced about two weeks into Israel’s offensive, marked by diplomatic disputes over Israeli inspection demands. The aid distribution has been hindered by security concerns and a shortage of fuel.
President Christodoulides specified that the operations center for the plan would be situated in the southern Cypriot city of Larnaca, which already houses a coordination center involving 33 countries. The port’s capacity is designed to handle 200,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid, facilitating 2,000 tonnes per vessel. Aid transfers would undergo daily checks by a joint committee, including Israel.
Convoys loaded with humanitarian aid would be escorted by warships to a predetermined area off the Gaza coast, ensuring safe passage to a neutral zone. President Christodoulides outlined medium and long-term steps, including the designation of a port and an adapted floating harbor. The European Commission, along with Greece, France, and the Netherlands, expressed interest in contributing to these efforts.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis affirmed Greece’s readiness to assist with naval ships under specific conditions. Additionally, diplomats disclosed that France proposed an extension of the corridor to evacuate severely wounded individuals to hospital ships in the Mediterranean off Gaza. Ongoing discussions indicate potential collaboration in this aspect as well, according to an Israeli official.