May 23, 2024

A ship hauling more than 200 tons of food for the Gaza Strip left Cyprus on Tuesday morning, in the first test of a maritime corridor designed to bring aid to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who the United Nations says are on the brink of starvation.

The ship, named Open Arms, for the Spanish aid group that provided it, was the first vessel authorized to deliver aid to Gaza since 2005, according to Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Union’s executive arm, which has supported the effort and describes it as a “pilot project” that could clear the way for more sea shipments.

The rice, flour, lentils, beans, and canned tuna, beef and chicken that it was hauling on a barge were supplied by World Central Kitchen, a charity founded by José Andrés, the renowned Spanish American chef. The United Arab Emirates was providing financing and logistical support for the operation, he said.

“We may fail, but the biggest failure will be not trying!” Mr. Andrés said on Tuesday on social media.

Still, the food was only a tiny fraction of what it would take to alleviate the widespread hunger in Gaza, and aid officials emphasized that it was no substitute for the volume of goods that could be delivered by truck, if Israel opened more land crossings into Gaza. The enclave has been under a near-total blockade since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel.

With no end in sight to the war in Gaza, clashes flared anew along another front, Israel’s northern border, between Israeli forces and the militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah and Hamas are allies, both backed by Iran, and the fighting along the Israel-Lebanon border has raised fears of a wider regional conflict.

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