Gaza aid via temporary pier suspended after rough seas cause damage – officials

28 May 2024, 19:14

US Army soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), US Navy sailors assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, and Israel Defence Forces placing the Trident Pier on the
United States Gaza Aid. Picture: PA

The setback is the latest for the pier, which has already had three US service member injuries and had four vessels beached due to heavy sea states.

A US-built temporary pier that had been used to deliver additional humanitarian aid into Gaza was damaged by rough seas and has temporarily suspended operations, three US officials told The Associated Press (AP).

The pier will be repaired, but it was not immediately clear how long that will take, a fourth US official told the AP.

The Joint Logistics Over The Shore (JLOTS) pier only began operations in the past two weeks and had provided an additional way to get critically needed food to Gaza.

Trucks loaded with humanitarian aid from the United Arab Emirates and the United States Agency for International Development cross the Trident Pier before arriving on the beach on the Gaza Strip on May 17 2024
Trucks loaded with humanitarian aid cross the Trident Pier before arriving on the beach on the Gaza Strip on May 17 (Staff Sgt Malcolm Cohens-Ashley/US Army via AP)

The setback is the latest for the 320 million dollar (£250 million) pier, which has already had three US service member injuries and had four of its vessels beached due to heavy seas.

Deliveries were also halted for two days last week after crowds rushed aid trucks coming from the pier and one Palestinian man was shot dead.

The US military worked with the UN and Israeli officials to select safer alternate routes for trucks, the Pentagon said on Friday.

The pier was fully functional as late as Saturday when heavy sea states unmoored four of the army boats that were being used to ferry pallets of aid from commercial vessels to the pier, which was anchored into the beach and provided a long causeway to then drive that aid on to the shore.

Two of the vessels were beached on Gaza and two others on the coast of Israel near Ashkelon.

Before the weather damage and suspension, the pier had begun to pick up steam and as of Friday more than 820 metric tons of food aid had been delivered from the sea on to the Gaza beach via the pier.

US officials have repeatedly emphasised that the pier cannot provide the amount of aid that starving Gazans need and said that more checkpoints for humanitarian trucks need to be opened.

At maximum capacity, the pier would bring in enough food for 500,000 of Gaza’s people.

Israel-Hamas war in Gaza Strip
(PA Graphics)

US officials stressed the need for open land crossings for the remaining 1.8 million.

The US has also planned to continue to provide airdrops of food, which likewise cannot meet all the needs.

A deepening Israeli offensive in the southern city of Rafah has made it impossible for aid shipments to get through the crossing there, which is a key source for fuel and food coming into Gaza.

Israel says it is bringing aid in through another border crossing, Kerem Shalom, but humanitarian organisations say Israeli military operations make it difficult for them to retrieve the aid there for distribution.

By Press Association

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