Food being readied for distribution after first aid ship reaches Gaza

Supplies from the first aid shipment to reach Gaza by sea — nearly 200 tons of food — are being “readied” for distribution in the enclave, the nonprofit World Central Kitchen said Saturday, as a second ship is preparing to depart from the port of Larnaca, Cyprus.

It was not immediately clear how and when the aid will be distributed in Gaza, where recent deliveries have devolved into chaos, with many killed and injured in incidents that Israeli and Palestinian officials have traded blame over.

The maritime aid operation called “Safeena,” or “boat” in Arabic, is led by World Central Kitchen, a U.S. nonprofit founded by celebrity chef José Andrés, and is being carried out with help from the Spanish search-and-rescue group Open Arms. On Friday, the Israel Defense Forces said that the aid items on the ship underwent security inspection and were transferred to WCK trucks for distribution in northern Gaza.

The second boat, WCK said, will carry two forklifts and a crane to help with future deliveries by ship, adding that the timing of the second ship’s sail was not yet known.

Aid agencies say the besieged enclave is teetering on the brink of famine, and are calling for increased aid deliveries and more access points into the territory, which are regulated by Israel. One in three children under 2 years of age are now acutely malnourished in northern Gaza, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees said Saturday, adding that malnutrition among children is reaching “unprecedented” levels.

Also on Saturday, Germany announced that it conducted an airdrop of aid containing rice and flour over northern Gaza, along with France and Jordan. “But airdrops are not enough. To supply the people in Gaza, the Israeli government urgently needs to open more border crossings, especially to allow more aid deliveries overland by truck,” the German Foreign Office said.

Separately, a U.S. C-130 aircraft dropped supplies of rice, flour, milk, pasta and canned food in northern Gaza, in a joint operation with the Jordanian air force, U.S. Central Command said.

Here’s what else to know

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Bahraini Crown Prince and Prime Minister Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa in Manama on Saturday to discuss a cease-fire proposal of at least six weeks in Gaza and the Houthi attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a release. “Secretary Blinken pledged to continue close coordination with regional and international partners to promote calm during the holy month of Ramadan and prepare for the post-conflict phase,” Miller added.

At least 20 people were killed and more than 150 were injured late Thursday while awaiting aid in northern Gaza, in what Palestinian officials in the enclave said was an Israeli attack. Witnesses interviewed by The Washington Post said they saw an Israeli helicopter and drones randomly firing on Palestinians. The Israeli military denied responsibility for the killings and late Friday released edited footage of what it said showed “Palestinian gunmen opening fire in the midst of Gazan civilians.” Accounts from witnesses and the IDF could not be independently corroborated.

At least 31,553 people have been killed and at least 73,546 have been injured in Gaza since the war began, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and combatants. Israel estimates that about 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack and says that 249 soldiers have been killed since the start of its military operation in Gaza.

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