Aid is being delivered to Gaza from a recently repaired US-built pier, the US military says

7 Min Read

This image from the US military shows trucks full of humanitarian aid from the United Arab Emirates and the United States Agency for International Development crossing the Trident Pier before arriving on the beach in the Gaza Strip, May 17, 2024. | Photo credit: AP

First aid from an American-built pier arrived in Gaza on June 8 as storm damage required repairs to the project, the US military said, reviving an effort to bring supplies to Palestinians by sea, who have been plagued by issues.

The U.S. Army-built pier was only operational for about a week before it was blown apart by high winds and heavy seas on May 25. A damaged section was reconnected to the beach in Gaza on Friday after being repaired at an Israeli port.

About 1.1 million pounds (492 tons) of humanitarian aid was delivered to Gaza via the pier on Saturday, the US Central Command said in a statement. It reiterated that no US military personnel have landed in Gaza. The U.S. Agency for International Development is working with the U.N. World Food Program and their humanitarian partners in Gaza to distribute food and other aid coming from the U.S.-run pier.

The deliveries came on the same day that Israel carried out a heavy air and ground strike that rescued four hostages taken by Hamas in the October 7 attack that launched the war in Gaza. At least 210 Palestinians, including children, were killed, a Gaza health official said.

Contrary to social media claims, US Central Command said in a tweet that neither the pier, nor its equipment, personnel or other assets were used in the Israeli operation. It noted that Israel used an area south of the pier “to safely return hostages.”

“The temporary pier on the Gaza coast was placed for one purpose only: to help move additional, urgently needed lifesaving aid to Gaza,” the U.S. military said.

See also  Putin vows a ceasefire if Ukraine leaves Moscow-occupied territories and drops NATO bid

USAID said in a separate statement that no humanitarian workers were involved in the Israeli operation.

“Humanitarian aid workers in Gaza are operating in extremely difficult and uncertain conditions and must be protected,” the organization said by email. “Aid workers operate according to the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.”

The pier aid movement brings online yet another way to obtain desperately needed food and other emergency supplies for Palestinians trapped in the eight-month war between Israel and Hamas. Israeli restrictions on land crossings and fighting have severely limited the flow of food and other essential supplies into the area.

The damage to the pier was the latest stumbling block for the project and the ongoing struggle to get food to the starving Palestinians. Three U.S. service members were injured, one seriously, and four ships were stranded due to heavy seas.

Early efforts to get aid from the pier to the Gaza Strip were also disrupted when crowds overran a convoy of trucks that aid agencies were using to transport the food, taking the cargo from many of them before they could reach a UN warehouse. Officials responded by changing travel routes and aid began reaching those in need.

Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, told reporters Friday that lessons learned from that first week of operations gave him confidence that larger amounts of aid could now be delivered.

He said the goal was to get 1 million pounds of food and other supplies into Gaza through the pier every two days. About P3.5 million in humanitarian aid has been delivered through the maritime route so far, the Central Command said on Saturday.

See also  The low-lying Maldives are more likely to seek financing to combat the waves

Reopen land routes, aid organizations tell Israel

Aid agencies have pressured Israel to reopen land routes that could bring in all the needed aid. Israel says it has allowed hundreds of trucks through a southern checkpoint and pointed the finger at the UN for not distributing aid. The UN says it is often unable to retrieve aid due to the security situation.

UN agencies have warned that more than 1 million Palestinians in Gaza could experience the highest level of famine by the middle of next month if hostilities continue.

US President Joe Biden’s administration has said from the start that the pier was not intended to be a one-stop solution and that any amount of aid helps.

Biden, a Democrat, announced his plan for the U.S. military to build a pier in early March during his State of the Union address, and the military said it would take about 60 days to install and get it operational . It took a little longer than planned: on May 17, the first trucks with relief supplies for the Gaza Strip rolled off the pier.

The initial cost was estimated at $320 million, but the Pentagon said last week that the price had fallen to $230 million, due to contributions from Britain and because the cost of contracting trucks and other equipment was lower than expected .

Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *