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Gaza relief vessel Open Arms gets GPS jammed

Ex migrant-rescue vessel-turned aid relief ship Open Arms (IMO 7325887) appeared to take a very strange route to its eventual destination of the Gaza beach, apparently turning up near Beirut, Lebanon, on March 14th.

It was never really there. Its GPS was jammed / spoofed by an unknown party or parties. Jamming could have prevented the ship from picking up location signals. For reasons of security the Open Arms NGO on land did not maintain contact with the vessel.

By Friday evening March 15th the vessel had moored at a temporary jetty, built out of Gaza rubble by a team from World Central Kitchen (WCK).

The NGO ship is using a maritime corridor between Cyprus and the Gaza Strip, a distance of 370 km, to bring aid to the population of the enclave. The surrounding area was being protected by Israeli military. Israel said the Open Arms vessel and its cargo were inspected in Cyprus, and that Israel Defence Forces (IDF) troops had been deployed to secure the shoreline. The exact location of the jetty looks to have been kept vague in order to make safer the transfer of supplies to land.

Meanwhile, cargo ship Jennifer (IMO 8404496) arrived at Larnaca Port Cyprus on March 13th, en route from Rhodes, and was expected to depart for Gaza on March 15th with 500 tons of humanitarian aid on board. The aid had arrived at Larnaca Airport and was then transferred to a warehouse at Larnaca Port. It includes sugar, flour, pasta, canned goods, and milk.

Scanners have been placed at Larnaca Port, operated by specialized personnel from Israel. Necessary checks of the humanitarian aid were conducted for security reasons, and then the specially packaged pallets were to be loaded onto the ship. The travelling time was estimated at 36 hours. Due to the seabed’s topography, the ship will wait for the completion of the unloading of the aid carried by the Open Arms and the barge MMS Aris. The aid on the Jennifer will then be unloaded to the barge to be transported to the shore.

1974-built, Spain-flagged, 427 gt Open Arms is owned and managed by Pro-Activa Open Arms of Barcelona, Spain. It is entered with Shipowners’ Club on behalf of Fundacion Proa (Proactiva Open Arms).

1984-built, Guinea-Bissau-flagged, 1,172 gt Jennifer is owned and managed by Growth Shipping Ltd-Mai of Majuro, Marshall islands. ISM manager is Ocean Power Trading Ltd of ari-Voula-Vouliagmenti, Greece.