Greece's humanitarian support of both sides of the Gaza conflict

The president of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou will receive members of the families of Israeli hostages that are held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, on Monday at 11:00 at the Presidential Mansion.
The president of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou will receive members of the families of Israeli hostages that are held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, on Monday at 11:00 at the Presidential Mansion.

Relatives of Hamas hostages held in Gaza are visiting Greece in order to raise awareness among the Greek public about the situation of their loved ones.

Galia and Eli David, mother and brother of 22-year-old Eviatar David, and Orit and Aviram Meir, mother and uncle of Almog Meir, were present at the event organized on Sunday night by the Central Jewish Council and the Jewish Community of Athens at the Concert Hall.

Outside the hall where the event took place, 242 chairs were symbolically placed, each of which has a stolen photo on it. The central slogan is "#bring them home".

In related news, a concert and rally commenced on Sunday around noon in support of the Palestinian people in Syntagma Square, Athens. The Palestinian Ambassador to Greece, Yussef Dorkhom greeted the crowds and participating artists.

“Palestine, Gaza and the Palestinian people thank you for your solidarity and humanity,” said Dorkhom to the people gathered in the Syntagma.

The rally was organized by PAME, the labor union affiliated with the Communist Party, under the slogan “Solidarity to the people of Palestine.”

After the concert, a protest march to the Embassy of Israel took  place.

Furthermore, the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Sunday that an airplane will depart Monday morning with humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip.

“Following the arrangements made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with the Egyptian authorities, a C-130 aircraft with a cargo of humanitarian aid destined for the civilians of the Gaza Strip will depart today, at 09:30.

The Greek humanitarian aid includes pharmaceutical and medical supplies which were collected following arrangements made by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Health and with the support of the Panhellenic Union of Pharmaceutical Industry,” the Ministry said.

Foreign Minister George Gerapetritis reiterated that the Greek foreign policy in the Middle East is a policy of principles, international law and national interest, in an interview with the Sunday newspaper VIMA. Greece has a very important international capital.

"It has been won with the consistent, sincere and undivided position that we have followed in the last years and that's the reason why we can be credible interlocutors not only for the countries of the region but for all the governments and the international organisations and this is what we will continue to do. Our position is the same and in Ukraine and in the Middle East. It is a stance of principle. We are against any aggressiveness and any revisionism".

Gerapetritis also clarified that Greece will not get involved in any war conflict and in parallel will do whatever possible to have a creative and active diplomacy aiming to reduce the tension and restore peace in the Middle East and in Ukraine. 

Speaking on crisis in the Middle East, Gerapetritis noted that from the first moment Greece held a crystal clear position, "Any terror action, any violent action any inhumane treatment should be condemned by all and entirely. We also said that the civilians should be protected and humanitarian channels should be created in order for the humanitarian aid to get into Gaza and people to have access to the essential goods".

In parallel, he reassured that Greece is, even today, continuing the efforts, with constant contacts with the Arab world and with Israel, "to ensure that the civilians will be protected and for the biggest possible humanitarian aid to reach the stricken, mostly in Gaza" and this will continue to be Greece's stance" adding that "the dead do not have nationality".

Greece is, "neither involved in military operations nor has it been asked to become involved," noted National Defense Minister Nikos Dendias in an interview to Parapolitika newspaper on Saturday.

Permitting the use of Greek military airfields, " - beyond the terms of Greece's defense agreement with the US - was allowed for transport aircraft as well as for support helicopters and personnel," he added. These will be used for humanitarian purposes, "i.e. for evacuations and transportation of US citizens or Greeks if required."

Concerning the use of Greek navy ships, Dendias added that these "had already participated -  before Hamas' attack- in three operations in the Mediterranean: one by the EU, by NATO and the UN respectively."

In the case of the UN, he noted, "it concerns the peacekeeping operation in Lebanon, but for security reasons the Greek frigate will be moved tens of miles from the coast of the country."

Greece's participation in these operations, "combined with the defense agreements it has signed, practically proves its geopolitical role in the region." It is "with this perspective in mind that our participation should be interpreted, and not as a factor of concern."

On Greek-Turkish relations, Dendias noted that "if Ankara wishes to see a real turning of a page in our relations it knows what it must do, in both action and words, guided by International Law and the International Law of the Sea."

Greece is "ready to respond in this case. In any case, however, complacency is not allowed, especially in today's fragile geopolitical balances in our broader region," he added.

Moreover, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met with Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides Sunday to discuss the situation in Gaza and, specifically, Cyprus’ proposal to create a sea corridor for humanitarian assistance.

Blinken’s early afternoon visit was not announced ahead of his arrival for security reasons. Christodoulides had only said that he would go to Larnaca airport for a visit related, “to our country’s efforts related to the crisis in our region.”

“Meeting was held between @PresidentCYP and US Secretary of State @SecBlinken on unfolding developments in the Middle East, incl. on a dedicated, one-way maritime corridor of sustained flow of humanitarian aid from #Cyprus to civilians in Gaza,” Cyprus Government Spokesman Letymbiotis tweeted on his account, along with a photo of Christodoulides and Blinken on the airport tarmac.