The second shipment of food aid from Cyprus is set to leave for Gaza, where over two million people are facing starvation amid the continued Israeli blockade of essential aid. The charity’s shipment, totalling 300 tonnes of aid, represents an increase from the initial delivery. The aid shipment contains essentials such as canned beans, carrots, tuna, chickpeas, corn, parboiled rice, flour, oil, and salt.

However, the departure time from the port of Larnaca remains to be determined, with the logistical challenges and security considerations inherent in delivering aid to a region beset by conflict and instability. The first aid shipment, towing a barge laden with 200 tonnes of aid, is expected to reach the Gaza coast imminently after setting sail from Larnarca earlier this week.

Collaborating with partners including Cyprus, the UAE, and the Spanish NGO Open Arms, the World Central Kitchen (WCK) spearheads the relief efforts. The whereabouts of the aid ships are being withheld for security reasons.

Cyprus’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Theodore Gotsis has reported that the Spanish-flagged aid ship is making “good progress” towards the Gaza coast, albeit at a cautious pace dictated by the circumstances.

Meanwhile, the Gaza Health Ministry has reported that at least six people have been killed and numerous injured after Israeli forces opened fire on crowds of Palestinians waiting for aid trucks in Gaza City. Israel, armed and supported by the United States, the United Kingdom, and other Western governments, has been shooting and killing Palestinian aid seekers in recent weeks, in addition to blocking the entry of essential aid into Gaza. Such Israeli attacks targeting starving Palestinian civilians and aid trucks have marred aid distributions, according to media reports. The European Union’s humanitarian aid chief highlighted the threat of famine in Gaza and urged Israel to facilitate the delivery of aid by opening more road routes.

Since 7 October, Israeli attacks on Gaza have killed 31,341 Palestinians and wounded 73,134 others.

In the occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli forces have implemented new restrictions for entry into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. The latest measures are announced ahead of the first Friday prayers of Ramadan. Among the requirements imposed by Israeli authorities is the mandate for worshippers to obtain permits and magnetic cards for entry.

Israeli police, however, have sought to allay fears by denying rumours of additional barriers at the mosque compound. Instead, they claim that maintenance work is being conducted to replace a security gate, emphasising the necessity for such measures in the interest of public safety and security.

Reports from the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation indicate the deployment of approximately 3,000 police officers to oversee security during the first Friday prayers of Ramadan in Jerusalem.

The Israeli army has affirmed its intention to uphold restrictions on entry into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound throughout the month of Ramadan, citing security concerns. The mosque, revered as the third holiest site in Islam, remains a focal point due to its religious significance to both Muslims and Jews.