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16 June, 2024
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'Amalthea' initiative eludes Lyme Bay in Malta stopover

British aid ship alters route for safety

Yiannis Ioannou

Yiannis Ioannou

Despite initial reports that the British Royal Navy (BRN) auxiliary landing ship, ''RFA Lyme Bay,'' would sail from Cyprus to Gaza for humanitarian aid purposes - as part of the ''Amalthea'' initiative to provide humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip via Cyprus - this was never possible.

The ship finally docked in Valletta from where it will probably sail to the sea area off Gaza after the Christmas holidays. Although initially there were links between the ship and the Cypriot 'Amalthea' initiative, due to the presence on board of part of the Cypriot humanitarian aid in Cypriot media after the publication of the news of the ship's stopover in Malta, CNA reported that security reasons for the route and the non-approval, in fact, of Israel changed the ship's course to Valletta three days ago. It will be recalled that the Lyme Bay is carrying about 80 tonnes of medical supplies and food.

Aid in the air
According to what the CBC reported a few days ago, when asked - last week - by journalists if there was any news about the ship carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, President Nicos Christodoulides had said that final approval from Israel was awaited.

Asked whether a decision had been taken on where the British ship would dock, the President of the Republic had said that this was one of the issues under discussion with the Israeli Government along with Britain, the US and the EU. Later today, Thursday 28 December, Israel appears to have given the go-ahead in principle to the Republic of Cyprus to operate the corridor for the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, but there are security and other practical issues to be resolved, sources told CBC.

Missing ... "Amalthea"
K pointed out in its analysis two months ago how Nicosia is seeking an active role in the new round of the Arab-Israeli conflict through the use of Cyprus' ports for a humanitarian aid corridor to the Gaza Strip - by sea. The project dubbed "Amalthea" is however two months later ignored as to the effective delivery of humanitarian aid through Cyprus while the objective difficulties remain on the ground (lack of a port in Gaza, security aspects, loading, etc.).

At the technical level there has been mobility between Nicosia and Tel Aviv - especially after the visit of the Israeli Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, to Cyprus on 19 December. At present, humanitarian aid to Gaza via Cyprus has been delivered only through the British Bases, while the Lyme Bay ship (equipped with light weapons systems such as a conventional gun, a Phalanx gun and 10 machine guns) is, for the time being, under the exclusive responsibility of the BRN.

It is worth noting, in following this issue, that Isra's security approval to the BR and the Amalthea initiative is linked to the operation of the checkpoints to Gaza (especially the key ones in Erez and Kerem Shalom) which, in case of their closure, the responsibility for the influx of goods or medicines into Gaza is shifted to third parties - including Cyprus.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

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