Italy sends hospital ship to aid Palestinians
November 9, 2023 07:43 PM
Italy is sending a hospital ship to the Middle East to aid Gaza's Palestinian population, which is expected to arrive "in a couple of days", the defence ministry told AFP on Thursday.
The navy ship "Vulcano", which is equipped with operating rooms, is carrying 30 medical staff and is heading initially to Cyprus, according to details published by the ministry.
It is expected to arrive "in a couple of days, weather permitting", a defence ministry spokesman told AFP, without confirming how close the ship would get to Gaza.
Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani told a press conference in Paris on Thursday the ship would "be outside Gaza waters as quickly as possible, ready to admit and take care of injured civilians".
The navy ship would be followed "in the next few days" by an army field hospital, Defence Minister Guido Crosetto said on Wednesday -- efforts he said were "a concrete sign of the humanitarian aid our country is sending to the Gaza Strip".
In a comment to the press, cited by AGI news agency, Crosetto said he believed "an initiative of this type will be welcomed by Israel as much as by the Palestinians".
"No-one can have anything to say about a humanitarian act."
The ministry is ready to send out other medical personnel once the hospital is up and running, including three anaesthetists, two surgeons and eight critical care nurses, it said in a statement.
The Gaza Strip has been under bombardment by Israel since the October 7 attack by Hamas.
Hamas militants stormed across the border from Gaza into Israel that day, killing more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and taking more than 240 hostages, Israeli officials say.
Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel retaliated with a relentless bombardment and ground invasion which the Hamas-run health ministry says has killed more than 10,500 people, many of them children.