Gaza aid maritime corridor foments imperialistic oil & gas interests

  • Post last modified:March 13, 2024
  • Reading time:11 mins read

As Gazans mark a devastating start to Ramadan on the brink of wide-spread famine, a Spanish non-profit boat set sail on Tuesday 12 March from Cyprus. Crucially, the vessel is carrying 200 tonnes of desperately needed food aid to the strip – currently under Israel’s brutal siege. It’s a precursor to the new Gaza aid maritime corridor.

Gaza aid maritime corridor

With Israel severely cutting off land shipments into the territory, the international community has sought to diversify routes for delivering aid. So of course, this is where the aid boat comes in.

The non-profit Open Arms ship left the port of Larnaca and will travel roughly 400 kilometres (250 miles) across the Mediterranean to Gaza. Open Arms partnered with US charity World Central Kitchen, whose staff will take delivery of the shipment. US charity World Central Kitchen said work was “underway” on a jetty to unload the shipment.

Notably, the Spanish non-profit ship is the first to use a much-lauded new maritime aid corridor intended to facilitate deliveries of food to the Palestinian territory. This is a joint initiative between the European Commission (EC), Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, the Republic of Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, the UK, and the US.

In effect, the proposal will enable countries to transport aid on the sea route between Cyprus and Gaza. As part of the plan, the American military will build a temporary Gaza pier to offload these supplies. Ostensibly, the non-profit vessel now on route is a torch-bearer for the flagship new aid project.

However, as some organisations and folks have pointed out on X, all is likely not as settler-colonial Israel and its Western imperialist backers would have you believe.

A “glaring distraction” from Israel’s genocide in Gaza

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) was unflinchingly scathing of the project, calling it:

a glaring distraction from the real problem: Israel’s indiscriminate and disproportionate military campaign and punishing siege.

Moreover, it didn’t falter in pointing the finger of blame at both Israel and US:

The food, water, and medical supplies so desperately needed by people in Gaza are sitting just across the border. Israel needs to facilitate rather than block the flow of supplies. This is not a logistics problem; it is a political problem. Rather than look to the US military to build a work-around, the US should insist on immediate humanitarian access using the roads and entry points that already exist.”

As of 12 March, Israel has killed 27 people through malnutrition and dehydration. The majority – 23 – were children. However, non-profit World Vision has warned that the number of deaths from starvation is likely to be “much higher”.

The dire humanitarian situation is happening because Israel has implemented de facto starvation policies on the population in Gaza. Specifically, it has been actively obstructing aid, with a new report from humanitarian rights group Refugees International accusing it of:

consistently and groundlessly impeded aid operations within Gaza, blocked legitimate relief operations and resisted implementing measures that would genuinely enhance the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza

Moreover, media and people inside Gaza have posted multiple accounts of IDF forces targeting civilians queuing for food aid.

As of 11 March, Israel’s military has slaughtered over 400 people waiting in food lines. This of course includes its notoriously brutal 29 February attack on starving Palestinians, now referred to as the “Flour Massacre”.

PR and opportunism

So, posters on X challenged the narrative that the aid ship is some pioneering feat of impressive diplomacy. Instead, they called it out for what it really is: a calculated act of imperialistic PR whitewashing and opportunism:

In other words, the maritime aid route – much like the recent aid airdrops – articulates a semblance of humanitarian action. Crucially, Israel’s imperialist cheerleaders can look like they’re upholding international law and negotiating for Palestinians’ rights. In reality, folks suggested that they’re instead pandering to Israel’s strategy of ethnic cleansing and mass Palestinian displacement:

Some underscored the horrendous double standards. Effectively, Israel has lifted the blockade to enable vehicles carrying US soldiers through to build the port, but continues to stop aid trucks from entering Gaza:

On top of this, others pointed out that the new port and maritime aid route does nothing for starving and injured Gazans needing aid now. This is because, as policy and politics scholar Taleed El-Sabawi astutely noted, the US logistics ship will take a month to reach Gaza, and a further two months to construct the port.

Aid as a pretext for fossil fuels and militarism

Ultimately, of course, the new port and Gaza aid maritime corridor looks largely a pretext for US militaristic expansion and energy colonialism. Unite’s Howard Beckett called it out:

Meanwhile, ecological economics professor Julia Steinberger spelled out the oil and gas interests likely at the heart of the project:

Certainly, the US hasn’t skipped a beat in sizing up the post-genocide oil and gas potential. As Israel ramped up its relentless genocidal siege in the strip in November, Biden energy security advisor Amos Hochstein visited the criminal state. Ever the shameless imperialist ready to cash in on colonial pillage, Hochstein pressed during the talks how there

is an opportunity here to develop the gas fields in offshore Gaza

Naturally, Hochstein emphasised that the proposal would be:

on behalf of the Palestinians

Yet, his transparent facade of colonial so-called benevolence – or in other words, exploitation – has fooled no-one. Like clockwork, the clincher for the US’s extractive ulterior motive came next:

as soon as we get to the day after and this horrible war ends, there are companies willing to develop those fields.

Of course, the vultures of disaster capitalism have already begun eyeing up plunder of the blood-soaked spoils. As Israel rained bombs down on Gaza, it announced new oil and gas licenses off the besieged strip’s shores for multiple Western fossil fuel supermajors.

Genocide-backing colonialists

Ultimately, the aid en route is vitally needed. However, 200 tonnes of food will offer little relief to the two million people Israel is starving in the strip.

World Food Programme chief Cindy McCain has said that Gaza needs 300 trucks of food aid per day to avoid famine. This would equate to approximately 6,000 tonnes of food daily, as each truck can load up 20 tonnes.

As famine starts to bite, nothing short of a full ceasefire and the immediate end of humanitarian aid blockades is necessary. But, as ever, Western apologists of the genocidal Zionist regime would rather see thousands starve than give up their colonial ambitions. Once a genocidal colonialist, always a genocide-backing colonialist.

Feature image via Voice of America/YouTube 

Additional reporting via Agence France-Presse

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