Israel’s defence minister proposed on Tuesday the development of a port facility in Cyprus to service the Gaza Strip.
The proposal was first reported by Hadashot TV on Monday; the report said that the proposal was put forward to the government of prime minister Nicos Anastasiades over the weekend.
The proposal put forward by the Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman envisages a floating dock in Cyprus. In this scheme, Cyprus will run the port while Israel will be in charge of security monitoring, ensuring that armaments do not go through.
The Cypriot government will examine the request, channeling humanitarian assistance to Gaza, that is, an enclave under naval blockade from both Egypt and Israel. The Gaza Strip has been under siege since Hamas took control over the enclave in 2007, severing ties with the Fatah run Palestinian Authority.
Lieberman’s offer of access to a port comes on the condition that the Hamas-run enclave in Gaza ensures the release of the bodies of Missing in Action soldiers, the Times of Israel report. There is also the issue of two mentally ill Israeli civilians held since 2014 and 2015.
The Israeli government intends to promote the project by engaging directly with public opinion in Gaza, as it refuses to cooperate with the Hamas administration.
The Gaza enclave is seen by Israel as a security concern, as it is used to launch rockets towards Israel. At the same time, the UN has urged Israel to open avenues for humanitarian assistance, as the population of Gaza lives in dire poverty. The enclave has limited access to drinking water, electric power shortages, and basic food supply disruptions.