US military starts pier construction off Gaza

Work expected to be completed within days; while no US boots on the ground; security provided by Israel out of concern that Hamas would regard any military presence around the pier as fair targets for attack after a rocket strike last week
U.S. troops have begun construction of a maritime pier off the coast of Gaza that aims to speed the flow of humanitarian aid into the enclave when it becomes operational in May, the Pentagon said on Thursday. The work is expected to be completed within days.
President Joe Biden announced the pier in March as aid officials implored Israel to ease access for relief supplies into Gaza over land routes. Whether the pier will ultimately succeed in boosting humanitarian aid is unclear, as international officials warn of the risk of famine in northern Gaza.
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צילום לוויין של רציף ימי בחופי עזה שארה"ב בונה בסיוע צה"ל
צילום לוויין של רציף ימי בחופי עזה שארה"ב בונה בסיוע צה"ל
Satellite image shows a pier on the Gaza shore for delivery of humanitarian aid
(Photo: Planet Labs PBC via AP)
A senior Biden administration official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, said humanitarian aid coming off the pier will need to pass through Israeli checkpoints on land. That is despite the aid having already been inspected by Israel in Cyprus prior to being shipped to Gaza. Israel wants to prevent any aid getting to Hamas fighters that boosts their war effort.
No U.S. troops will have boots on the ground in Gaza but they will be operating the activities on the pier. Unloading the aid as it arrives, into secure storage facilities will be done by private contractors working for the American forces and distribution will be carried out by the World Food Organization's staff. The IDF in addition to providing security around the pier, will also gather intelligence and take steps to ensure no American troops are endangered or the pier itself damaged.
Initially work on the pier, which is an extended humanitarian, logistical operation, would be conducted during daylight hours only while its capacity expands. It would not be used to bring people in or out of Gaza.
A U.N. official said the port will likely have three zones — one controlled by the Israelis where aid from the pier is dropped off, another where the aid will be transferred, and a third where Palestinian drivers contracted by the U.N. will wait to pick up the aid before bringing it to distribution points.
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הספינה הלוגיסטית האמריקנית שבדרך להקמת רציף ימי מול חופי עזה
הספינה הלוגיסטית האמריקנית שבדרך להקמת רציף ימי מול חופי עזה
U.S. logistical vessel on its way to build the pier on the Gaza shore
(Photo: US CENTCOM via Reuters)
In a statement, the Israeli military said it would provide security and logistics support for the pier. An IDF brigade, which includes thousands of soldiers, along with Israeli Navy ships and Air Force would work to protect U.S. troops who are setting up the pier.
The military said the new pier will expand and improve transfer of humanitarian aid to the Strip. "The IDF's participation highlights the joint efforts with international organizations to deliver humanitarian aid to the civilian population in Gaza," the IDF said in a statement.
The security provided by the IDF is critical in face of the Hamas threat, as it regards any military presence at the pier as fare targets for attack. In fact earlier in the week, Hamas rockets targeted a joint UN, U.S. delegation, near the pier. Troops present there, moved delegation members into shelters but one participant was lightly injured.
A U.N. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss behind-the-scenes deliberations, said several sticking points remain around how the Israelis would handle the port’s security. The military is reportedly seeking to install remote-controlled gun positions, which the U.N. opposes, said the official, although it was not clear what weapons were being described.
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