US has finished Gaza aid pier construction, Pentagon says

Poor conditions at sea is preventing immediate placement and use of pier

US soldiers and sailors assemble the floating pier in the Mediterranean Sea. US Central Command / Reuters
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The US military has finished construction of a floating pier that will enable offshore humanitarian aid deliveries to Gaza, but poor weather is hampering the final placement of the facility.

“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,” Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said in a briefing.

JLots stands for Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore, the term the Pentagon is using for the pier in the Mediterranean Sea.

Cargo ship MV Sagamore is already in Cyprus, prepared to load and transfer humanitarian aid from USAID and other organisations, as well as international partners.

Ms Singh said commercial vessels can dock at the pier, but only military ships can take the aid to the causeway that has been set up off the coast of Gaza.

A recent UN and EU report said the whole of the population in Gaza is facing a “catastrophe” of food insecurity.

Israel limited humanitarian aid access to Gaza after a deadly Hamas attack that killed up to 1,200 people last October, according to local authorities.

Local health officials in Gaza have estimated that about 34,800 people have been killed in the enclave so far.

“Remember, this is a temporary pier,” Ms Singh said.

“This is not the best way to get humanitarian aid into Gaza – the best way is through those land routes and we do want to see those opened up.”

Israeli tanks took over the crucial Rafah border crossing into Egypt as part of a military operation in the southern Gazan city on Monday, causing concern that it would worsen food insecurity in the enclave.

Ms Singh said the US will continue to use diplomatic routes to push for border crossings to be opened to aid deliveries, and that the US military would conduct more aid drops from planes.

“This is just meant to help augment, to help complement other ways that aid can get in,” she said.

Poor conditions at sea are preventing immediate placement and use of the pier, Ms Singh said.

“Today, there are still forecasted high winds and high sea swells, which are causing unsafe conditions for the JLots components to be moved,” she said.

“So the pier sections and military vessels involved in its construction are still at the port of Ashdod.”

Updated: May 07, 2024, 9:08 PM