US completes construction of Gaza aid pier, not yet in place due to weather conditions

US completes construction of Gaza aid pier, not yet in place due to weather conditions
High winds and high sea swells are preventing the newly-completed pier components to be moved to the Gaza coast, the US said.
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Gaza is in desperate need for humanitarian aid amid seven months of deadly war and siege [Getty/file photo]

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 on Tuesday.

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 the besieged Gaza Strip, ravaged by over seven months of Israeli military onslaught.

"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.

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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.

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Plans for the pier were first announced by US President Joe Biden in early March as Israel held up deliveries of assistance by ground for desperate Gazans, 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 on 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, Karam Abu Salem, was "unacceptable" and needed to be reversed. The latter has reopened since, Israeli authorities said on Wednesday.

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 supplies.

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"To date the US has dropped 1,200 tons of humanitarian assistance," CENTCOM said in a statement.

Israel began waging a war in the Gaza Strip on October 7, carrying out an air and ground offensive in the densely-populated enclave. At least 34,844 Palestinians have been killed since, with thousands more feared to be trapped under rubble.

Israel has also gone on to impose a blockade on the Strip, depriving residents of basic needs such as food, water and fuel.