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Spanish Aid Ship Headed to Gaza to Feed Famished Palestinians

Written by on March 12, 2024

A Spanish charity ship carrying 200 tons of humanitarian food aid set sail from Cyprus to Gaza on Tuesday, the latest effort to feed tens of thousands of starving Palestinians as fighting between Israel and Hamas militants rages on.

The food, gathered by World Central Kitchen, the charity founded by celebrity chef Jose Andres, was on a barge being towed by a ship belonging to the Spanish aid group Open Arms and headed to an undisclosed location on the Gaza coast. The 400-kilometer voyage was expected to take two to three days.

A second vessel was being loaded in Cyprus to soon make the same trip to help besieged Palestinians, Cypriot Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos told state radio.
Speaking later in Beirut, Kombos said “We are working towards the safe arrival of the first shipment and then the safe distribution.”

“If all goes according to plan… we have already put in place the mechanism for a second and much bigger cargo, and then we’ll be working towards making this a more systematic exercise with increased volumes,” he said.

Andres said while there was no certainty the food delivery would be successful, “the biggest failure will be not trying.”

“We could bring millions of meals a day,” Andres said. “The people of the north (in Gaza) will be fed!”

The U.S. military has dispatched a ship to the Mediterranean to build a temporary pier on the Gaza shoreline to provide passage for more aid trucks but says the dock may take two months to be completed.

Meanwhile, the war rages on and no cease-fire has been reached in talks between Israel and Hamas.

The United States, Qatar and Egypt had hoped to broker a cease-fire that would include the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners and a greater flow of aid into Gaza. But the cease-fire talks stalled last week.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military said it has determined that an American-Israeli soldier, Itay Chen, believed to have been taken hostage by Hamas during its shock October 7 attack on Israel was actually killed that day.

Chen’s family has been prominent in pushing Israeli and American officials to secure the release of the 100 or so hostages still held by Hamas. His father Ruby has made repeated media appearances and met with top U.S. officials.

President Joe Biden said he was devastated to learn that the 19-year-old soldier had been killed.

“I reaffirm my pledge to all the families of those still held hostage: we are with you. We will never stop working to bring your loved ones home,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House.

On a second battle front, the Israeli military said about 100 projectiles were launched from Lebanon on Tuesday, some of the heaviest fire coming from Israel’s northern neighbor since the start of the war in Gaza.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage following the strikes, which appeared to be in response to Israeli airstrikes deep inside Lebanon on Monday. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli airstrike that targeted the southern Lebanese village of Khiyam on March 12, 2024.
Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli airstrike that targeted the southern Lebanese village of Khiyam on March 12, 2024.

Israel’s military and fighters from the Lebanese Hezbollah have been trading fire since the Israel-Hamas conflict began. More than 220 Hezbollah fighters and nearly 40 civilians have been killed on the Lebanese side, while in Israel, nine soldiers and 10 civilians have been killed in the attacks.

Palestinian officials said an Israeli strike early Tuesday on a home in central Gaza killed 11 people, including four women and five children, all from the same family.

Israel also reported carrying out new airstrikes in the Khan Younis area of southern Gaza as it pushes forward with its campaign to eliminate the Hamas militant group.

Israel said Monday that an airstrike in Gaza over the weekend targeted a senior Hamas military leader, but it was still trying to determine whether he had been killed. The strike on the presumed hideout of Marwan Issa took place “between Saturday and Sunday,” Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told a news briefing.

He said the compound in central Gaza was used by two senior members of Hamas, including Issa, who Israel accuses of being one of the key planners behind Hamas’ October 7 terror attack on Israel.

Issa is second in command of Hamas’ military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.

“We are still examining the results of the strike, and final confirmation has yet to be received,” Hagari said.

Israel began its military campaign to wipe out Hamas after the group’s October 7 terror attack on Israel that killed about 1,200 people according to Israeli tallies and led to the capture of about 250 hostages. Gaza health officials say Israel’s counter-offensive has killed more than 31,000 people and injured 72,700 others.

Some material in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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