July 13, 2024

First aid boat approaches Gaza amid prolonged conflict during Ramadan


A noticeable development emerged off the coast of Gaza as the first shipment of food destined for the besieged region navigated through a newly established maritime corridor. Departing from Cyprus earlier in the week, the vessel named Open Arms, affiliated with a Spanish charity, was spotted towing a barge reportedly laden with 200 tonnes of essential provisions intended for Gazans facing famine amid over five months of ongoing conflict, according to an AFP journalist on the scene.

However, amidst these humanitarian efforts, the situation remained fraught with violence. The Gaza health ministry claimed that 20 individuals awaiting aid were killed by Israeli fire, an accusation swiftly refuted by Israeli authorities, who cited the aggression of “armed Palestinians” targeting civilians. Reports of airstrikes and skirmishes in various regions of Gaza compounded the precarious atmosphere, particularly exacerbating dire humanitarian conditions in the northern areas.

As Muslims gathered for the first Friday prayers of Ramadan, tensions escalated, particularly in Jerusalem, where Palestinians in the occupied West Bank encountered obstacles crossing Israeli checkpoints en route to the revered Al-Aqsa mosque compound. Amidst the rising tensions, Israel bolstered security measures in the Old City, anticipating large congregations for prayers.

Efforts to broker a new ceasefire and negotiate the release of hostages have been underway, with Hamas indicating a degree of flexibility in response to proposals put forth by Qatari and Egyptian mediators. Nevertheless, significant hurdles remain, with Hamas insisting on a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and increased humanitarian aid—a demand contested by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and critiqued by senior U.S. officials.

The prolonged conflict has precipitated a humanitarian crisis, with the United Nations warning of imminent famine and underscoring the inadequacy of aid deliveries, largely impeded by restrictions on land routes.

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