US-built aid pier in Gaza will need to be removed after damage from rough seas

28 May 2024, 20:14

Aid pier
United States Gaza Aid. Picture: PA

The pier will be repaired in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod.

The US-built temporary pier taking humanitarian aid to starving Palestinians will be removed from the coast of Gaza to be repaired after getting damaged in rough seas and weather, the Pentagon said.

Over the next two days, the pier will be pulled out and sent to the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, where US Central Command will repair it, Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told reporters.

She said the fixes will take “at least over a week” and then the pier will need to be anchored back into the beach in 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 pier, used to carry in humanitarian aid arriving by sea, is one of the few ways that food, water and other supplies are getting to Palestinians who the UN says are on the brink of famine amid the nearly eight-month-old war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

The setback is the latest for the 320 million dollar (£250 million) pier, which only began operations in the past two weeks and has already had three US service members injured 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.

After that, 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 seas unmoored four of the army boats that were being used to ferry pallets of aid from commercial vessels to the pier.

The system is anchored into the beach and provided a long causeway for trucks to 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.

Israel-Hamas war in Gaza Strip
(PA Graphics)

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.

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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