Aid begins to arrive in Gaza via US-built pier

May 18, 2024 2:25 pm

[Source: Reuters]

Aid deliveries began arriving at a U.S.-built pier off the Gaza Strip on Friday as Israel comes under growing global pressure to allow more supplies into the besieged coastal enclave, where it is at war with Palestinian militants Hamas and a famine looms.

The temporary floating pier was pre-assembled at the Israeli port of Ashdod and moved into place on Thursday on the shore of Gaza, which lacks port infrastructure of its own. No U.S. troops went ashore, the Pentagon’s Central Command said.

After months of discussions, the United Nations has agreed to assist in coordinating aid deliveries and distribution at the floating dock under the condition the operation “respects the neutrality and independence of humanitarian operations,” deputy U.N. spokesperson Farhan Haq said on Friday.

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The Hamas-run government media office in Gaza accused Washington of “trying to improve its ugly image” with the pier. In line with comments by the U.N., humanitarian groups and Washington itself, Hamas said the U.S. pier wasn’t enough to meet the humanitarian needs and demanded greater aid shipments to the enclave by land.

The U.N. reiterated that aid deliveries by land are the “most viable, effective and efficient” way to combat the humanitarian crisis in the enclave of 2.3 million people.

Aid offloaded at the pier will come via a maritime corridor from Cyprus, where it is first inspected by Israel. Britain said on Friday it had delivered its first aid shipment via the pier.

Aid groups, the United Nations and Israel’s closest allies, have all demanded that Israel do more to get aid into Gaza, which has been largely laid to waste by the Israeli campaign launched last year after the Hamas-led attacks on Israel on Oct.7.

The pier operation is estimated to cost $320 million and involve 1,000 U.S. troops, a U.S. defense official and a source familiar with the matter have told Reuters.