08 May 2024, 09:39

US completes construction of Gaza aid pier

WASHINGTON, May 8, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - 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

The pier -- which the US military started building last month and which will
cost at least $320 million -- 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.

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.

- New US air drop -

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 on Tuesday in a joint operation that also
delivered the equivalent of more than 13,000 meals of Jordanian food

"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

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