World

Ships to leave Gaza with 240 tons of undelivered aid, Cyprus says

Around 100 tons of aid had been unloaded when World Central Kitchen, an international charity, suspended operations after several workers were killed.

Aid ships will turn back from Gaza with 240 tons of undelivered aid after an air strike killed at least seven charity workers (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, File)
Gaza World Central Kitchen Explainer Aid ships will turn back from Gaza with 240 tons of undelivered aid after an air strike killed at least seven charity workers (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, File) (Petros Karadjias/AP)

An official in Cyprus says aid ships that arrived in Gaza this week will return to the Mediterranean island nation carrying some 240 tons of undelivered aid after an air strike killed seven aid workers.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Theodoros Gotsis said that around 100 tons of aid had been unloaded before World Central Kitchen, an international charity, suspended operations.

World Central Kitchen, an aid group, says an Israeli strike that hit its workers in Gaza killed at least seven people, including several foreigners (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)
Israel Palestinians World Central Kitchen, an aid group, says an Israeli strike that hit its workers in Gaza killed at least seven people, including several foreigners (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana) (Abdel Kareem Hana/AP)

Seven of the charity’s workers were killed by an apparent Israeli strike.

Cyprus has played a key role in trying to establish a maritime aid corridor to Gaza from its port city of Larnaca.

Those efforts suffered a major setback when World Central Kitchen halted operations.

Cyprus’ Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos said the charity is suspending operations in Gaza out of respect for the victims as well as to review security protocols.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has acknowledged that Israeli forces carried out the strike that killed seven aid workers in Gaza. He said officials “will do everything for this not to happen again.”

A man holds blood-stained British, Polish, and Australian passports after an Israeli airstrike, in Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip killed at least seven international aid workers with the World Central Kitchen charity and their Palestinian driver (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)
Israel Palestinians A man holds blood-stained British, Polish, and Australian passports after an Israeli airstrike, in Deir al-Balah, Gaza Strip killed at least seven international aid workers with the World Central Kitchen charity and their Palestinian driver (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana) (Abdel Kareem Hana/AP)

However, Cyprus’ President Nikos Christodoulides said that more aid could be shipped to Gaza from Cyprus before the end of the month.

A floating pier off the besieged territory’s coastline built by the US is set to be completed and the Cypriot president confirmed that aid deliveries will continue.

Mr Christodoulides said that the Gaza aid shipments “will continue as humanitarian needs are there” despite the air strike.

The president said that the tragic event “should not discourage us” and that the international community should “double down” on efforts to provide more assistance to Gaza’s civilian population.

He said aid workers “must have full protection” in providing assistance, citing “crystal clear” humanitarian law.

In the last three weeks, World Central Kitchen, in partnership with the United Arab Emirates, has sent approximately 500 tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza from the Cypriot port of Larnaca aboard a barge and two ships on two separate trips.