June 20th, 2024

Aid deliveries suspended after rough seas damage US-built temporary pier in Gaza, US officials say

By Tara Copp, The Associated Press on May 28, 2024.

A U.S. Army landing craft is seen beached in Ashdod on Sunday, May 26, 2024, after being swept by wind and current from the temporary humanitarian pier in the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

WASHINGTON (AP) – A U.S. built temporary pier that had been used to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza was damaged by rough seas and has temporarily suspended operations, three U.S. officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The Joint Logistics Over The Shore, or JLOTS, pier only began operations in the past two weeks and had provided an additional way to get critically needed food to Gaza.

The setback is the latest for the $320 million pier, which has already had three U.S. service member injuries and had four if its vessels beached due to heavy seas. Deliveries also were halted for two days last week after crowds rushed aid trucks coming from the pier and one Palestinian man was shot dead. The U.S. military worked with the U.N. and Israeli officials to select safer alternate routes for trucks, the Pentagon said Friday.

The pier was fully functional as late as Saturday when heavy seas unmoored four of the Army boats that were being used to ferry pallets of aid from commercial vessels to the pier, which was anchored into the beach and provided a long causeway for trucks to drive that aid onto the shore.

Two of the vessels were beached on Gaza and two others on the coast of Israel near Ashkelon.

The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to provide details that had not yet been announced publicly.

Before the weather damage and suspension, the pier had begun to pick up steam and as of Friday more than 820 metric tons of food aid had been delivered from the sea onto the Gaza beach via the pier,

U.S. officials have repeatedly emphasized that the pier cannot provide the amount of aid that starving Gazans need and stressed that more checkpoints for humanitarian trucks need to be opened.

At maximum capacity, the pier would bring in enough food for 500,000 of Gaza’s people. U.S. officials stressed the need for open land crossings for the remaining 1.8 million.

The U.S. has also planned to continue to provide airdrops of food, which likewise cannot meet all the needs.

A deepening Israeli offensive in the southern city of Rafah has made it impossible for aid shipments to get through the crossing there, which is a key source for fuel and food coming into Gaza. Israel says it is bringing aid in through another border crossing, Kerem Shalom, but humanitarian organizations say Israeli military operations make it difficult for them to retrieve the aid there for distribution.

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