Gaza war: Boat carrying humanitarian relief 'ready' to leave Cyprus

Gaza war: Boat carrying humanitarian relief 'ready' to leave Cyprus
The aid headed to Gaza is much needed for the enclave's population, suffering from a lack of food, water and other basic needs.
9 min read
Israel's war in Gaza entered its 155th day on Saturday, with a reported number of 82 casualties overnight [Getty/file photo]

The New Arab's live blog on Israel's war in Gaza has now ended, and will resume tomorrow at 0800 GMT.

A boat laden with food for Palestinians in war-ravaged Gaza was "ready" to set sail from Cyprus, an NGO said Saturday, as Israel's war in the enclave ahead of Ramadan.

The sea route aims to counter aid access restrictions, which humanitarians and foreign governments have blamed on Israel, more than five months into the war which has left Gaza's 2.4 million people struggling to survive.

The United Nations has repeatedly warned of looming famine, particularly in the Palestinian territory's north where no overland border crossings are open.

Spanish charity Open Arms said its boat, which docked three weeks ago in Cyprus's Larnaca port, "will be ready" to embark later on Saturday but awaits final authorisation.

It would be the first shipment along a maritime corridor from Cyprus -- the closest European Union country to Gaza -- that the EU Commission hopes will open on Sunday.

US CENTCOM confirms delivery of airdrops into Gaza
5:57 PM
The New Arab Staff

US Central Command confirmed it carried out air drops into Gaza, and that the operation included US Air Force C-130 aircraft and US Army soldiers specialised in aerial delivery of humanitarian assistance.

The aid, which included 41,400 meals and 23,000 bottles of water, was dropped into northern Gaza, “an area of great need, allowing for civilian access to the critical aid”.

Mossad, CIA chiefs met Friday to 'advance' hostage deal
4:54 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel said on Saturday its spy chief had met with his US counterpart as part of efforts to secure the release of hostages still held in Gaza.

"The head of the Mossad, David Barnea, met yesterday (Friday) with the head of the CIA, Bill Burns, as part of the ceaseless efforts to advance another hostage release deal," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement on behalf of the Mossad.

The statement said Israel remained in touch with mediators for a possible deal but that Hamas was "not interested" and was "striving to inflame the region during Ramadan", the Muslim fasting month which could begin as early as Sunday.

UK warship shot down two Houthi drones: Defence Minister
4:23 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Defence minister Grant Shapps said a British warship had shot down two Houthi attack drones, joining American and French forces in acting to protect shipping lanes in the Red Sea.

"Last night, HMS Richmond used its Sea Ceptor missiles to shoot down two attack drones - successfully repelling yet another illegal attack by the Iranian backed Houthis," Shapps said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Saturday.

"The UK and our allies will continue to take the action necessary to save lives and protect freedom of navigation."

US plan for temporary port 'step in right direction': Hamas
3:29 PM
The New Arab Staff

A spokesperson for the Hamas-run government said that the US plan to build a temporary port off Gaza’s coast to deliver humanitarian aid "is a step in the right direction", in an interview with Al Jazeera.

"From our side, governmental bodies are ready to help distribute the aid to the people who need it," he said, adding that he was hopeful the initiative would "alleviate the suffering caused by this humanitarian catastrophe".

However, he added that the proposed plan was "not the shortest and easiest way" to deliver humanitarian relief to Gaza and that several questions remain concerning the logistics and who will operate the pier.

"The Americans have to pressure Israel to open all borders, the sea, the air and the ground, to allow people to get what they need," he said.

Destruction caused by Israel in Gaza equal to over $30 bln
3:27 PM
The New Arab Staff

Gaza’s Government Media Office said the destruction caused by Israel in the war-hit territory since 7 October amounts to more than $30 billion due to the damage to homes and other infrastructure, including, electricity, water, and sewage networks.

The office said earlier that five months into the war, 80 percent of the homes in Gaza have been rendered "uninhabitable".

At least 10 killed in Nuseirat camp after Israeli air strike
2:58 PM
The New Arab Staff

At least 10 people have been killed in the Al-Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, Al Jazeera reports.

A search and rescue operation is under way after the destruction of an entire residential block belonging to the al-Nuwairi family, the news outlet said.

A surviving resident told Al Jazeera that there were "children and girls" in the house.

A member of the civil defence told Al Jazeera that "among those targeted is a month-old baby girl and efforts to search for her are still ongoing".

The strike targeted a building home to the al-Nuwairi family [Getty]
Aid ship from Cyprus 'ready' to sail for Gaza: charity
2:17 PM
The New Arab Staff

Two-hundred tonnes of food aid were "ready" to be sent from Cyprus to war-ravaged Gaza by sea, a Spanish NGO said Saturday, the first shipment along an EU-backed maritime corridor.

A spokeswoman for Open Arms, a charity whose boat docked three weeks ago in the Cypriot port of Larnaca, said "everything will be ready to be able to set sail" later Saturday.

"Depending on all the authorisations and permits, and when we get them", the vessel - also called Open Arms -- could embark "today or tomorrow", Laura Lanuza told AFP.

The Spanish aid group has partnered with US charity World Central Kitchen to prepare the first aid delivery via the sea route that the EU Commission hopes will open this weekend.

Gaza war has "ruptured any sense of a shared humanity": ICRC
1:04 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The war in Gaza has "ruptured any sense of a shared humanity," the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Saturday.

ICRC head Mirjana Spoljaric called for an urgent ceasefire in Gaza, saying Israel and Hamas must respect international law and protect civilians caught up in their conflict.

She said getting a steady, substantial flow of desperately needed aid into the besieged Palestinian territory - where the United Nations says more than 90 percent of the population is on the brink of famine - was "only part of the solution".

"Alleviating the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza starts with a clear will and measures that safeguard civilian life and human dignity, meaning both sides must conduct their military operations in a way that spares the civilians who are caught in the middle," Spoljaric said.

"The only way to achieve this is that the parties strictly adhere to international humanitarian law, which means preserving the life, dignity and humanity of all people affected by armed conflict, regardless of which side they are on.

"It is the line between humanity and barbarity," she insisted.

"Preserving civilian life and health is the rule, not the exception."

The war in Gaza has entered its 6th month, and killed over 30,000 people [Getty]
UNRWA at 'risk of death', says Lazzarini
12:40 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency is at "risk of death" after a string of donors suspended their funding over Israeli accusations some staff took part in the October 7 attacks, UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said.

"The agency is at risk of death, it is risking dismantlement," Lazzarini told Swiss broadcaster RTS in an interview aired on Saturday.

"What is at stake is the fate of the Palestinians today in Gaza in the short term who are going through an absolutely unprecedented humanitarian crisis."

Israel strikes landmark Burj al-Masri tower in Rafah
12:08 PM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Israel struck one of the largest residential towers in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday, residents said, stepping up pressure on the last area of the enclave it has not yet invaded and where over a million displaced Palestinians are sheltering.

The 12-floor building, located some 500 metres from the border with Egypt, was damaged in the strike. Dozens of families were made homeless though no casualties were reported, according to residents. The Israeli military did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the incident.

One of the tower's 300 residents told Reuters that Israel gave them a 30-minute warning to flee the building at night.

"People were startled, running down the stairs, some fell, it was chaos. People left their belongings and money," said Mohammad Al-Nabrees, adding that among those who tripped down the stairs during the panicked evacuation was a friend's pregnant wife.

A view of damage after Israel targeted Burj al-Masri building in Rafah [Getty]
French military destroys 4 combat drones in Gulf of Aden
11:24 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

A French warship and fighter jets destroyed four combat drones that were heading towards a European naval mission in the Gulf of Aden on Saturday, the French military said.

"This defensive action directly contributed to the protection of the cargo ship True Confidence, under the Barbados flag, which was struck on March 6 and is being towed, as well as other commercial vessels transiting in the area," the army said in a statement. 

PA calls for ‘practical actions’ on two-state solution
11:11 AM
The New Arab Staff

The Palestinians Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called for "translating international and American consensus on the two-state solution into practical actions and steps to ensure protection from settlement expansion".

"Attaining full membership for the State of Palestine in the United Nations plays a crucial role in safeguarding the two-state solution."


82 Palestinians killed in 24 hours across Gaza: MoH
10:29 AM
The New Arab Staff

82 people have been killed in 10 Israeli attacks on Palestinians in the last 24 hours, raising the total number of deaths in Gaza since October 7 to 30,960, according to Health Ministry in Gaza.

A statement by the ministry on Telegram said that 122 people had been injured by the Israeli army over the past day, increasing the total number wounded to 72,524.

President Erdogan says Turkey firmly backs Hamas leaders
10:15 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Turkish President Recep Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday Ankara "firmly backs" Palestinian militant group Hamas.

"No-one can make us qualify Hamas as a terrorist organisation," he said in a speech in Istanbul. "Turkey is a country that speaks openly with Hamas leaders and firmly backs them."

Erdogan has been one of the most virulent critics of Israel since the start of the war in Gaza, which began after an October 7 attack by Hamas in Israel that claimed at least 1,160 lives, according to an AFP tally of official Israeli figures.

Erdogan has called Israel a "terrorist state" and accused it of conducting a "genocide" in Gaza.

Several Palestinians killed in overnight strikes across Gaza
9:07 AM
The New Arab Staff

Dozens of civilians, the majority of whom are children and women, were killed and others injured in a series of Israeli airstrikes that targeted multiple areas across the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian news agency Wafa said.

The Palestinians were killed in locations including Al-Zaytoun neighborhoud in Gaza City,Khan Younis, Jabalia, and Deir al-Balah

Israeli forces detain three Palestinian men in Nablus
8:50 AM
The New Arab Staff

Israeli forces arrested three young men from Nablus, at dawn on Saturday, the Palestinian Wafa agency said.

Local sources said that the forces arrested the young man, Abdullah Al-Nabulsi, after raiding and searching his house in the city of Nablus.

The same sources added that two other young men, Adnan Abu Shusha, from the old Askar camp, and Hamza Muslim, from the new Askar camp, after Israeli forces raided their families’ homes and searched them.

Israel's raid was carried out in the West Bank city of Nablus [Getty]
US-led coalition shoots down 15 Yemen rebel drones: CENTCOM
8:28 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

US and allied forces shot down 15 one-way attack drones fired by Iran-backed Yemeni rebels into the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, the US military said on Saturday.

The US Central Command, or CENTCOM, said the "large-scale" Houthi attack occurred before dawn into the Red Sea and adjacent Gulf of Aden.

CENTCOM and coalition forces determined that the drones "presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels, US Navy and coalition ships in the region".

It added, in a post on social media platform X, that "US Navy vessels and aircraft along with multiple coalition navy ships and aircraft shot down 15" of the drones.

"These actions are taken to protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure."

Sweden resumes aid to UN agency for Palestinians
8:14 AM
The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Sweden said Saturday it was resuming aid to the cash-strapped UN agency for Palestinians with an initial disbursement of $20 million after receiving assurances of extra checks on its spending and personnel.

Like several other countries, Sweden suspended aid to UNRWA in October after Israel accused about a dozen of its employees of involvement in the October 7 Hamas attack that went on to trigger Tel Aviv's deadly war in Gaza.

"The government has allocated 400 million kronor to UNRWA for the year 2024. Today's decision concerns a first payment of 200 million kronor," the Swedish government said in a statement.

It said that to unblock the aid, UNRWA had agreed to "allow controls, independent audits, to strengthen internal supervision and extra controls of personnel."

The Swedish move came after the European Commission earlier this month said it would release 50 million euros in UNRWA funding.