U.S. says pier used for Gaza aid deliveries needs ‘over a week’ of repairs

The U.S.-built temporary pier that has been taking humanitarian aid to starving Palestinians for less than two weeks will be removed from the coast of Gaza to be repaired after getting damaged in rough seas and weather, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Over the next two days, the pier will be pulled from the beach and sent to the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, where U.S. Central Command will repair it, Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told reporters. She said the fixes will take “at least over a week” and then the pier will need to be anchored back into the beach in Gaza.

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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.

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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. The system is anchored into the beach in Gaza and provided a long causeway for trucks to drive that aid onto the shore.

Two of the vessels got stuck on the coast of Israel. One has already been recovered and the other will be in the next 24 hours with the help of the Israeli military, Singh said. The other two boats were stranded on the beach in Gaza and were expected to be recovered in the next two days, she said.

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The suspension of the pier comes after the new sea route had begun to pick up steam, with more than 1,000 metric tons of food aid delivered.

U.S. officials have repeatedly emphasized that the pier cannot provide the amount of aid that starving Gazans need and said 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, and U.S. officials have stressed the need for open land crossings for the remaining 1.8 million.

The U.S. also has 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.

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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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: World