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16 May, 2024 16:31

US completes aid pier at Gaza beach

American troops did not enter Palestinian territory as the dock was installed, the Pentagon has said
US completes aid pier at Gaza beach

The US military has completed work on a temporary pier to allow additional aid deliveries into Gaza, the Pentagon announced in a statement on Thursday. Meanwhile, the flow of aid into the besieged enclave is still being throttled by Israel’s refusal to open border checkpoints. 

The pier was anchored to the beach in Gaza on Thursday morning, US Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Middle East, said in a statement.

“As part of this effort, no US troops entered Gaza,” the statement read. “Trucks carrying humanitarian assistance are expected to begin moving ashore in the coming days. The United Nations will receive the aid and coordinate its distribution into Gaza.”

The pier was towed to Gaza from the Israeli port of Ashdod, around 30km north of the enclave. Construction on the project began almost two months ago, and the pier was originally scheduled to be in place at the beginning of this month, before inclement weather postponed the towing operation.

Aid arriving by sea will first be transferred from large ships to smaller vessels at a different offshore jetty, before being ferried to the pier and loaded onto trucks. From there, UN staff will transport the goods into Gaza for distribution. Hundreds of tons of aid currently sitting in Cyprus will arrive on the pier within days, US Agency for International Development (USAID) official Dan Dieckhaus told reporters on Wednesday. 

Israel placed Gaza under a near-total siege following Hamas’ October 7 attack on the Jewish state. For most of the seven months since, the Israeli authorities have only permitted aid trucks to enter through two checkpoints: The Rafah Crossing between Gaza and Egypt, and the Kerem Shalom checkpoint at the borders of Gaza, Egypt, and Israel.

However, the Kerem Shalom crossing was shut earlier this month after Hamas fighters killed four Israeli soldiers in the vicinity, while the Rafah Crossing was closed following its seizure by Israeli forces several days later. The Rafah Crossing is still closed amid a diplomatic row between Israel and Egypt, and while the Kerem Shalom checkpoint is operational again, UN officials say that only a trickle of aid is being allowed through.

According to the most recent figures published by the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), just six trucks were allowed into Gaza on Sunday, down from 340 in a single day at the beginning of May. Aid agencies say Gaza’s 2.3 million people need around 500 truckloads of food, medicine, fuel, and other humanitarian supplies every day.

A UN-backed report warned in March that more than 70% of Gaza’s population are facing catastrophic hunger. “There is famine – full-blown famine – in the north, and it’s moving its way south,” UN World Food Program Director Cindy McCain told NBC News earlier this month.