Malta supports Cypriot plan for sea aid corridor to besieged Gaza enclave

Malta supports plan to supply aid to Gaza by sea but wants more clarity on how operation proposed by Cyprus will work

Larnaca in Cyprus will serve as a transit point for aid to Gaza under the Cypriot plan to create a sea corridor to the Palestinian enclave
Larnaca in Cyprus will serve as a transit point for aid to Gaza under the Cypriot plan to create a sea corridor to the Palestinian enclave

Malta supports a plan put forward by Cyrus to supply Gaza with humanitarian aid by sea but has made no commitment yet to participate actively. 

The plan, called Amalthea Initiative (named after the foster mother of Zeus in Greek mythology), was put forward in a 25-page dossier last Thursday during the Paris Peace Forum. 

“In principle Malta is supportive of the idea but government is still evaluating how it can contribute to the initiative,” a senior government official told MaltaToday. 

He said there were still too many obstacles to overcome before Malta can determine what contribution it can give. 

Several EU countries have backed the Cypriot plan, which also enjoys the support of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel. 

Cyprus is the closest EU country to Israel and Gaza, being only some 210 nautical miles away.  

According to the plan put forward by Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides, the humanitarian aid will be collected in the port city of Larnaca, which is also serviced by an airport, from where it will be shipped to Gaza. The maritime operation will allow larger volumes of aid to reach Gaza, which is currently besieged by Israeli forces. 

The only source of aid into the Palestinian enclave is through the Rafah crossing with Egypt where a few dozen trucks a day are entering. 

The Cypriot plan will require the green light from Israel that will want to check cargos for arms or other illegal goods. 

However, the plan has other obstacles, not least the lack of a large, safe port in Gaza.

Amalthea Initiative 

Humanitarian aid would be collected in an operations centre based in the southern Cypriot city of Larnaca.  
Aid would be collected, inspected and stored in Cyprus and then sent to Gaza on vessels checked daily by a joint committee including Israel. The vessels would be accompanied by warships to a designated spot identified on the coast of Gaza, from where it would be sent to a safe, neutral area. 

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is reported to have pledged his country’s naval support for the operation but underscored that the most difficult aspect is to identify a suitable landing zone in southern Gaza and create the necessary port infrastructure for the aid transfer. 

The idea of creating a floating dock was discussed during the conference and France also suggested expanding the corridor to evacuate severely wounded people from Gaza onto floating hospital ships in the Mediterranean. 

Gaza has been besieged and bombed by Israeli forces for more than a month in retaliation to attacks carried out by Hamas militants inside Israel. 

The Hamas attacks killed 1,400 Israelis and the militants also took more than 200 hostages back with them to Gaza. 

Israeli ground forces moved into the territory and the relentless bombing campaign has killed more than 9,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including 4,000 children.