US completes construction of Gaza aid pier

US completes construction of Gaza aid pier
US completes construction of Gaza aid pier

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - The US military has completed construction of its Gaza aid pier, but weather conditions mean it is currently unsafe to move the two-part facility into place, the Pentagon said Tuesday. — Reuters pic/US Army Central handout

WASHINGTON, May — The US military has completed construction of its Gaza aid pier, but weather conditions mean it is currently unsafe to move the two-part facility into place, the Pentagon said yesterday.

The pier — which the US military started building last month and which will cost at least US$320 million (RM1.5 billion) — is aimed at boosting deliveries of desperately needed humanitarian assistance to Gaza, which has been ravaged by seven months of Israeli operations against Hamas.

“As of today, the construction of the two portions of the JLOTS — the floating pier and the Trident pier — are complete and awaiting final movement offshore,” Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told journalists, using an acronym for Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore, the official name for the pier capability.

“Today there are still forecasted high winds and high sea swells, which are causing unsafe conditions for the JLOTS components to be moved. So the pier sections and military vessels involved in its construction are still positioned at the port of Ashdod,” in Israel, Singh said.

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US Central Command (Centcom) “stands by to move the pier into position in the near future,” she added.

The vessels and the under-construction pier were moved to the port due to bad weather last week. Once the weather clears, the pier will be anchored to the Gaza shore by Israeli soldiers, keeping US troops off the ground.

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Aid will then be transported via commercial vessels to a floating platform off the Gaza coast, where it will be transferred to smaller vessels, brought to the pier, and taken to land by truck for distribution.

Plans for the pier were first announced by US President Joe Biden in early March as Israel held up deliveries of assistance by ground, and US Army troops and vessels soon set out on a lengthy trip to the Mediterranean to build the pier.

Some two months later, the humanitarian situation in Gaza remains dire. The United Nations said Tuesday that Israel had denied it access to the Rafah crossing — the key entry point for aid into the besieged territory.

The White House said the closing of Rafah and the other main crossing, Karem Shalom, was “unacceptable” and needed to be reversed.

In addition to seeking to establish a maritime corridor for aid shipments, the United States has also been delivering assistance via the air.

Centcom said American C-130 cargo planes dropped more than 25,000 Meal Ready To Eat military rations into Gaza yesterday in a joint operation that also delivered the equivalent of more than 13,000 meals of Jordanian food supplies.

“To date the US has dropped 1,200 tons of humanitarian assistance,” Centcom said in a statement.

Gaza’s bloodiest-ever war broke out following Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 34,789 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry. — AFP

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