US aid pier removed from Gaza for repair after stormy weather

Repairs will take more than a week, further slowing relief operations for Palestinians

US soldiers assessing the situation on an Army vessel that ran aground at a beach in Israel's coastal city of Ashdod. EPA
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The temporary pier installed by the US off the coast of Gaza has been damaged and is being removed for repair, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, in the latest setback for efforts to deliver aid to Palestinians.

Parts of the $320 million pier were affected by rough seas and bad weather at the weekend.

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

The repairs will take more than a week, and then the pier will need to be anchored back to the beach in Gaza, she added.

Four US military boats were also affected by the bad weather after they became unmoored from the pier.

Two became stuck on the coast of Israel and two were beached off Gaza.

Ms Singh said all the boats would be recovered with help from the Israeli military. She said that at no point were the crews expected to set foot in the Gaza Strip.

The pier, used to deliver humanitarian aid arriving by sea to Gaza, is one of the few ways that food and other supplies are getting to Palestinians, who the UN says are on the brink of famine.

The two main crossings in southern Gaza – Rafah from Egypt and Karam Abu Salem from Israel – are either not operating or are largely inaccessible because of nearby fighting.

The setback is the latest for the costly pier, which began operations only in the past two weeks and has already led to injuries for three US service members.

Two of the troops received minor injuries, while the third is in a critical condition, Ms Singh said.

Asked if the mission had failed, she said: "If you want to characterise it as a failure, I leave it to you.

"What I can tell you is that we don't control the weather. Right now this is usually a time of relative calm.

"So hopefully, when we are able to re-anchor the pier back you'll be able to see that aid flow off in a pretty steady stream.”

Updated: May 29, 2024, 9:18 PM