First Maritime Aid Shipments Arrive On Gaza’s Shores As Hamas Threat Looms Nearby

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The first maritime humanitarian aid shipments arrived in Gaza on Friday and Saturday amid concerns that Hamas may hinder the distribution of the cargo, according to Politico.

A vessel deployed from Cyprus carrying 200 tons of food and supplies arrived at a makeshift dock in Gaza on Friday, one of the first of many such shipments to be made via a maritime corridor from the international community and the U.S., according to The Hill. The news comes alongside concerns that Hamas terrorists may try to disrupt the delivery of aid or steal it from civilians. (RELATED: Netanyahu Defies Biden, Green Lights Offensive Into Hamas Stronghold)

A second vessel equipped with supplies from the World Food Kitchen (WFK) was deployed on Saturday from a Cyprus port, according to Politico. Speculation has surrounded how effective maritime shipments to Gaza could be, and the shipment from Cyprus on Friday and Saturday marks the first successes of the operation.

“This was a test,” WCK founder José Andrés said in a statement on Friday. “We could bring thousands of tons a week. With what we learn we will get better.”

“We want to increase the volume of humanitarian aid transfer, so we are talking to several states,” Cyprus President Nikos Christodoulides told reporters on Friday, according to Politico. “We are on a very good track, there is support after that started from clearly many more states because they see that what we said is being implemented and we are continuing.”

The U.S., Israel and international allies have tried several methods to get aid into Gaza, including via truck convoys and airdrops, since the region became a hotspot for conflict between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Hamas in October. Hamas killed over 1,200 civilians on Oct. 7, prompting a swift retaliatory counteroffensive by Israel in the Gaza region.

The Biden administration announced its own plan to deliver aid to Gaza via a corridor through the Mediterranean Sea. The plan is to deploy naval vessels off the coast of Gaza, build rafts equipped with aid and float them over to the shores without having to put American troops on the ground.

Even so, the operation doesn’t come without obstacles. The Pentagon admitted on Mar. 8 that there is “certainly a risk” that Hamas terrorists in Gaza will fire upon nearby American naval vessels when they arrive in the region.

“If Hamas truly does care about the Palestinian people, then again, one would hope that this international mission to deliver aid to people who need it would be able to happen unhindered.,” Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters on Mar. 8.

The U.S. has previously warned that there is a “high risk” of Hamas stealing aid delivered into Gaza and using it for their own benefit. Additionally, some international organizations such as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) have been accused of diverting aid to Hamas and helping the terrorist group attack and kill Israelis during the Oct.7 massacre.

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