Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides will visit Egypt and Jordan on Tuesday as part of an initiative to establish a humanitarian aid corridor to Israeli-besieged Gaza.
Cyprus, the closest European Union member state to the Middle East, has offered to host and operate facilities for sustained aid directly into the Gaza Strip once hostilities between Israel and the Palestinian militant Hamas group cease.
Christodoulides planned to meet Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and King Abdullah of Jordan. There were “technical discussions” on the matter between Cypriot and Israeli officials on Sunday.
The Cypriot plan is aimed at expanding capacity for humanitarian relief directly to the coastal Gaza Strip beyond limited deliveries being made through the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Palestinian enclave.
Such an aid corridor faces logistical, political and security challenges — Gaza has no port and its waters are shallow.
Britain, which sent 80 tons of Gaza-destined aid in the form of mostly blankets and tents to Cyprus last week, has offered watercraft able to access the coastline without the need for special infrastructure if the corridor ever materializes, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
As many as 80 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have fled their homes in an Israeli bombing campaign that has reduced much of the crowded coastal strip to a desolate wasteland.
Separately, human rights groups sought to block the Dutch government from exporting F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel, arguing in court on Monday that the exports could make the Netherlands complicit in possible war crimes.
The Netherlands houses one of several regional warehouses of US-owned F-35 parts, which are then distributed to countries that request them, including Israel.
The rights groups, which included Oxfam Novib, the Dutch affiliate of the international charity, argued Israel was using the planes in attacks in Gaza that were killing civilians.
Preventing that was more important than the Netherlands fulfilling its commercial or political obligations to allied countries, they argued.
“The (Dutch) state must immediately stop its deliveries of F-35 parts to Israel,” lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld said in summary proceeding at the Hague District Court.
“That is its obligation under ... Article 1 of the Geneva conventions, it is its obligation under the Genocide Treaty to prevent genocide, and it is its obligation under export law.”