New aid routes set up in Gaza after lorries intercepted

Vehicles carrying humanitarian assistance from new US-built pier were stripped of cargo

Palestinians climb on to lorries to grab aid that was delivered into Gaza through a US-built pier on Thursday. Reuters
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New routes for the movement of aid from a temporary pier to a distribution centre in Gaza have been set up after lorries carrying humanitarian assistance were intercepted and stripped of their cargo, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

Deliveries began arriving at the US-built pier on Friday as global donors try to circumvent Israeli delays and closures at land crossings into Gaza.

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor on Monday accused Israel of using “starvation as a method of warfare” by denying Gazans ready access to food and water.

Several lorries carrying aid from a drop-off point near the pier to a distribution centre in Gaza were intercepted by residents, prompting a pause in deliveries.

“Some of that initial aid that was brought in, as it was being taken along the transportation route, was intercepted by some people who took that aid off those vehicles,” Pentagon spokesman Maj Gen Pat Ryder told reporters.

“There have been discussions between the US, Israel, the United Nations … to identify alternative routes for the safe movement of staff and cargo.

“As we work out processes and procedures, alternative routes for the safe movement of that cargo have been established.”

Maj Gen Ryder said the movement of aid from the temporary holding site on the beach to the warehouse had resumed on Tuesday.

It was not clear how much, if any, aid from the pier had reached Gazans. He said 569 tonnes had been delivered by sea into the besieged enclave so far.

“We do anticipate that assistance will be distributed in the coming days … conditions permitting,” Maj Gen Ryder said.

The temporary floating pier is meant to help ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, although aid workers say that only deliveries through land borders can ensure relief on the scale that is needed.

President Joe Biden in March ordered the US military to build the pier and a dock for deliveries of food, high-nutrition treatments and other vital supplies.

Israeli restrictions on shipments of food and aid through land borders, as well as fighting, have thrown Gaza's 2.3 million residents into a severe food crisis.

None of the 11 aid lorries that left the newly installed dock on a Gaza beach made it to a warehouse as intended on Saturday, World Food Programme spokesman Steve Taravella told AP.

He said they were commandeered by a crowd of people gathered near by.

“Without sufficient supplies entering Gaza, these issues will continue to surface,” Mr Taravella said.

“Community acceptance and trust that this is not a one-off event are essential for this operation’s success.”

Deliveries of international aid have fallen sharply since Israel increased military operations in and around the southern city of Rafah on May 7, closing the border crossing with Egypt.

Updated: May 22, 2024, 6:44 AM