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U.S. military’s stop-start Gaza pier to resume operations, officials say

By Thomson Reuters Jun 19, 2024 | 6:32 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military’s on-again, off-again floating pier in Gaza is expected to resume operations on Thursday to unload sorely needed humanitarian aid for Palestinians, two U.S. officials told Reuters on Wednesday.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the pier had been re-attached to the shore on Wednesday after being temporarily removed last Friday due to poor sea conditions.

Aid began arriving via the U.S.-built pier on May 17, and the U.N. said it transported 137 trucks of aid to warehouses, some 900 metric tons.

But then rough seas damaged the pier, forcing repairs, and poor weather and security considerations have limited the number of days it has been operational.

U.S. President Joe Biden announced in March the plan to put the pier in place for aid deliveries as famine loomed in Gaza, a Hamas-run enclave of 2.3 million people, during the war between Israel and the Palestinian militants.

The U.S. military estimates the pier will cost more than $200 million for the first 90 days and involve about 1,000 service members.

It is unclear how much longer it will be operational.

Speaking at the Pentagon on Tuesday, spokesperson Air Force Major General Patrick Ryder declined to say when the military might halt its pier operations altogether. He said the pier has so far allowed for a total of over 3,500 metric tons of aid to reach Gaza’s shores.

“With the caveat that this has always been intended to be a temporary pier, I’m not aware at this point of any established date of: ‘This is when we’re going to stop,'” he told reporters.

“And again, taking a step back here, the big picture: Whether it be by land, sea or air, (the United States is) employing all avenues to get assistance into Gaza.”

(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali; Editing by Stephen Coates)