Saturday, July 20, 2024

The head of the Gaza relief organization, José Andrés, calls for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas


As the second ship carrying desperately needed aid prepared to depart for Gaza on Sunday, Jose Andres, founder of the food charity sending the ships, called for a ceasefire and said Israel must do more to prevent famine in Gaza.

“At the very least, Israel should make sure that no one is hungry, that no one is without food and water,” Mr. Andres, the celebrity chef, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“This is something that should happen overnight,” he added. But for political reasons, I think that does not happen there.”

Mr. Andres said he hopes his group, World Central Kitchen, can scale its fledgling efforts and eventually bring “huge amounts of food daily to the shores of Gaza,” where UN officials said 2.2 million people live on the coast. The brink of starvation.

Although the Open Arms, the first ship sent by the group, has attracted global attention in recent days, the sea route so far provides only a small portion of the aid the United Nations says is needed to stave off famine. Open Arms towed a barge to a temporary dock off Gaza on Friday carrying the equivalent of about 10 truckloads of food — far short of the 500 truckloads per day that aid groups say are needed.

Aid groups – including World Central Kitchen, which has sent more than 1,400 aid trucks to Gaza – have appealed to Israel to allow more trucks in through more land crossings, saying only a rapid flow of trucks can support Gaza's population.

But only about 150 trucks enter Gaza through the two open land crossings each day, according to UN data, due to several factors, including lengthy Israeli inspections to impose strict limits on what can enter Gaza.

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Restrictions on these entry points have led to a scramble for innovative solutions among donors such as the European Union, which helped create a sea route from Cyprus to Gaza, and the United States, which is airdropping aid and leading efforts to reopen the route. Building a temporary dock off the coast of Gaza to accommodate more deliveries by ship. John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, told ABC's “This Week” on Sunday that it would take six to eight weeks to complete construction.

So far, the Global Central Kitchen, which Mr. Andrés founded after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, has successfully delivered aid directly to Gaza by ship. The first batch included about 200 tons of rice, flour, lentils, canned tuna, chicken and beef.

The second ship, which was still anchored in the Cypriot port of Larnaca on Sunday evening, is scheduled to bring food and equipment to assist with future sea deliveries.

On Sunday, Mr. Andres wondered aloud why the Israeli military was bombing buildings in Gaza that might house hostages that Israel says it wants to see returned to safety. He also issued a plea for peace, saying he saw great humanity on both sides of the conflict.

“My time in Israel, my time in Gaza, it seems like everyone loves falafel and everyone loves hummus just as strongly,” said Mr. Andres, whose group has opened more than 60 community kitchens inside Gaza. Serving hot meals. “It makes you wonder how people who like the same foods can be at odds with each other.”

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