Aid ship slowly heads for Gaza as calls for assistance grow

A first boat loaded with 200 tonnes of food aid was making slow progress towards the Gaza Strip on Thursday as efforts grew to bring more humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian territory besieged by Israel.

The main U.N. aid agency in Gaza said an Israeli strike a day earlier hit one of its warehouses in the southern city of Rafah, killing an employee, although Israel later said a Hamas militant was killed in the rocket strike.

Donor nations, aid agencies and charities pushed on with efforts to rush food to the territory of 2.4 million people, where famine looms after more than five months of war.

Mediation efforts have so far failed to secure a new truce in the war triggered by Hamas's October 7 attack on Israel, and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant vowed again that Israeli forces "will reach every location" in their mission to destroy the Islamist group.

Israeli forces have carried out a relentless campaign of air strikes and ground operations in Gaza, killing at least 31,272 people, most of them civilians, according to the territory's health ministry.

The Spanish charity vessel Open Arms left Cyprus for Gaza on Tuesday, towing a barge with 200 tonnes of aid in the first voyage along a planned maritime corridor to Gaza.

It was moving slowly south off the coast of Israel, according to specialist website Marine Traffic.

However, airdrops and efforts to open a maritime corridor were "no alternative" to land deliveries because they could only provide a fraction of the aid needed, 25 organisations, including Amnesty International and Oxfam, said in a statement Wednesday.

In Gaza City, desperate Palestinians were awaiting the arrival of the Open Arms aid boat.

"They send aid, but when this aid arrives,...

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