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Aid Arrives in Gaza via U.S.-Built Pier

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), U.S. Navy Sailors assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, and Israel Defense Forces emplace the Trident Pier on the Gaza coast, May 16, 2024. The temporary pier, part of the Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore capability, will enable the maritime delivery of international humanitarian aid to the United Nations in Gaza for distribution to Palestinian people in need.

Aid Arrives in Gaza via U.S.-Built Pier

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May 17, 2024

GAZA, May 17 (Reuters) – Aid deliveries began arriving at a U.S.-built pier off the Gaza Strip on Friday as Israel comes under growing global pressure to allow more supplies into the besieged coastal enclave,where it is at war with Palestinian militants Hamas and a famine looms.

The temporary floating pier was pre-assembled at the Israeli port of Ashdod and moved into place on Thursday on the shore of Gaza, which lacks port infrastructure of its own. But no U.S. troops went ashore, said the U.S. Central Command.

“This is an ongoing, multinational effort to deliver additional aid to Palestinian civilians … and will involve aid commodities donated by a number of countries and humanitarian organizations,” the U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

After months of discussions, the United Nations has now “agreed to support in receiving and arranging for the dispatch of aid into Gaza from the floating dock, as long as it respects the neutrality and independence of humanitarian operations,” deputy U.N. spokesperson Farhan Haq said on Friday.

Aid offloaded at the pier will come via a maritime corridor from Cyprus, where it is first inspected by Israel. Britain said on Friday it had delivered its first aid shipment via the pier.

The U.N. World Food Programme will have a handful of staff stationed near the pier to coordinate distribution of the aid – using contractors – throughout Gaza, said a U.N. official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

But the U.N. remains adamant that aid deliveries by land are the “most viable, effective and efficient” way to try and combat the humanitarian crisis in the enclave of 2.3 million people.

“Given the immense needs in Gaza, the floating dock is intended to supplement existing land crossings of aid into Gaza, including Rafah, Kerem Shalom and Erez. It is not meant to replace any crossings,” Haq said.

Aid groups, the United Nations and Israel’s closest allies, have all demanded that it do more to get aid into Gaza, which has been largely laid to waste by the Israeli campaign launched last year after the Hamas-led attacks on Israel on Oct.7.

The pier operation is estimated to cost $320 million and involve 1,000 U.S. troops, a U.S. defense official and a source familiar with the matter have told Reuters.


A new wave of upheaval has created additional need, as hundreds of thousands of people already displaced by the war and sheltering in the southern Gaza city of Rafah have evacuated to areas in central Gaza in anticipation of an Israeli assault.

Israel has said it is stepping up aid efforts, and the military said 365 trucks entered through the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings on Thursday, carrying flour and fuel. Hundreds of tents were also delivered for people evacuated from Rafah to the Al-Mawasi area, which Israel has declared a humanitarian zone.

Israel also recently started moving supplies through a new point close to the existing Erez crossing in northern Gaza. However, the southern crossings of Erez and Kerem Shalom have been disrupted by military operations.

Israel’s military said in a statement it “will continue its efforts to allow humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip by land, air, and sea, in accordance with international law.”

The United Nations said on Thursday that “for days now, crossings into southern Gaza have been closed, unsafe to access, or not logistically viable.”

It says at least 500 trucks a day of aid and commercial goods need to enter Gaza. In April, it said there was an average of 189 trucks a day – the highest volume of supplies that have entered Gaza since the war started.

U.S. officials have said the pier would initially handle 90 trucks a day, but that number could go to 150 trucks. To maintain U.N. neutrality at the pier, U.N. staff will not have any contact with the Israeli military, which is providing security and logistics support for the operation.

Haq said on Friday that the U.N. will coordinate “the arrival of empty trucks, their registration, overseeing the loading and transfer of commodities coming through the floating dock to the trucks and the dispatch to warehouses across Gaza and, finally, hand over the supplies to humanitarian partners.”

(Reporting by Clauda Tanios, James Mackenzie, Michelle Nichols and Emma Farge; editing by Christina Fincher and Sharon Singleton)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2024.

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