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200 Tonnes of Essential Food Supplies Delivered to Gaza by World Central Kitchen

Aerial view shows a World Central Kitchen (WCK) barge loaded with food arriving off Gaza, where there is risk of famine after five months of Israel's military campaign, in this handout image released March 15, 2024. Israel Defense Forces/Handout via REUTERS

The inaugural maritime humanitarian aid delivery to Gaza has successfully been offloaded onto the shoreline.

Conducted in partnership with the United Arab Emirates, the initiative was spearheaded by the US-based charity, World Central Kitchen.

The shipment, comprising 200 tonnes of essential food supplies, is a critical response to Gaza’s dire food shortage, highlighted by the UN’s warning of an imminent famine.

While aid organizations have accused Israel of obstructing aid efforts, Israeli authorities refute these claims vehemently. They assert that aid is permitted through designated crossings in the south and have attributed any logistical challenges to shortcomings on the part of aid agencies.

Much of the Gaza Strip has been devastated during the Israeli military operations that began after Hamas gunmen attacked southern Israel on 7 October, killing about 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages.

More than 31,400 people have been killed in Gaza since then, the Hamas-run health ministry says.

Saturday’s shipment arrived on board Spanish charity ship Open Arms. Its cargo includes beans, carrots, canned tuna, chickpeas, canned corn, parboiled rice, flour, oil, salt and pallets of dates, which hold spiritual significance during Ramadan.

It had been checked by Israeli officials in port in Cyprus.

It marks the start of a trial to see if the sea route would be more effective than air and land deliveries.

Aid organizations have consistently emphasized that land delivery remains the most effective method of providing relief, but they assert that Israeli restrictions have severely limited the amount of aid entering Gaza.

In a statement, World Central Kitchen (WCK) announced, “All cargo has been unloaded and is being prepared for distribution in Gaza.” Teams labored through the night to transfer the aid onto dry land.

Since Gaza lacks a functional port, WCK’s team constructed a jetty extending from the shoreline to facilitate the offloading process. However, specifics regarding the distribution of aid remain unclear, as UN relief agencies have cited significant challenges in delivering relief supplies to those in need.

Previously, celebrity chef José Andrés, the founder of WCK, took to X (formerly Twitter) to announce that all the food aid from the barge had been successfully loaded into 12 lorries.

“We did it!” he exclaimed, expressing satisfaction with the accomplishment. Andrés noted that this operation served as a trial run to assess the feasibility of bringing even larger quantities of aid in subsequent shipments, potentially reaching “thousands of tons a week”.

In response, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued a statement confirming the deployment of troops to secure the shoreline during the offloading process.

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