Gaza pier under construction, Pentagon says

Security will be provided by the Israeli military

A temporary jetty on the Gaza Strip coast, which was used in March to provide food aid ferried by sea to the besieged Palestinian territory. AFP
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The US military has started building a temporary pier to significantly boost humanitarian aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip, US officials said on Thursday.

The system will begin operations in early May, they said,

US President Joe Biden, facing domestic pressure over his handling of the Israel-Gaza war, announced last month that the military would build a temporary port on Gaza’s Mediterranean coast to receive humanitarian aid by sea.

“I can confirm that US military vessels … have begun to construct the initial stages of the temporary pier and causeway at sea,” Pentagon press secretary Maj Gen Pat Ryder said.

Under the project, aid will be screened and packaged in Cyprus then taken by ship to a floating platform in the Mediterranean.

From there, lorries on US Army and Navy vessels will drive down a pier that is about 500 metres long and drop aid into a secure area near the beach in Gaza.

The lorries will be driven by third-country nationals, officials said.

A senior US military official told reporters the Joint Logistics Over the Shore (Jlots) maritime project would initially begin delivering about 90 lorryloads of aid each day, eventually increasing that to 150 loads.

In recent weeks, an average of about 220 lorries have made it into Gaza from Israel and Egypt, so the extra capacity is significant as the entire population of the Palestinian territory faces food insecurity.

The military official said Israeli forces would provide security for the Jlots system as no US troops will go ashore in Gaza.

Highlighting the security risks, militants on Wednesday fired mortars at the what will be the pier's aid delivery area in Gaza, the Pentagon said.

UN officials were touring the site with Israeli troops on the coast of central Gaza when the mortars landed, The Times of Israel reported.

The army said the officials were rushed to a shelter by troops during the attack.

“We've been working closely with the Israeli … forces for weeks on a comprehensive, integrated plan that protects US troops from the land, air and sea,” the US military official said.

The official said protection of US troops is “our number one priority”.

The Israeli military has made mistakes in which it has killed its own troops, hostages that it was supposed to be rescuing and aid workers.

This month, the Israelis killed seven World Central Kitchen workers.

The Jlots project has faced setbacks, with one ship catching fire and another delayed by mechanical problems in the Canary Islands.

The military official said the mission had more than enough equipment to get the job done.

“Those two vessels are redundant in nature or have zero impact on mission execution,” the official said.

Updated: April 26, 2024, 11:55 AM