In first, UN says it distributed some aid that arrived to Gaza via US pier

‘Limited number’ of biscuits reach hungry Palestinians after troubled launch as first trucks coming from dock were looted by Gazans before aid agencies could hand them out

A ship transporting international humanitarian aid is moored at the US-built Trident Pier near Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on May 21, 2024. (AFP)
A ship transporting international humanitarian aid is moored at the US-built Trident Pier near Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on May 21, 2024. (AFP)

WASHINGTON — The UN World Food Program said Wednesday that it has handed out in Gaza in recent days a “limited number” of high-energy biscuits that arrived from a US-built pier, the first aid from the new humanitarian sea route to get into the hands of Palestinians in grave need.

The small number of biscuits came in the first shipments unloaded from the pier Friday, WFP spokesman Steve Taravella said. The US Agency for International Development told The Associated Press that a total of 41 trucks loaded with aid from the more than $320 million pier have reached humanitarian organizations in Gaza.

“Aid is flowing” from the pier, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Wednesday in response to questions about the troubled launch of aid deliveries from the maritime project. “It is not flowing at a rate that any of us are happy with.”

Pentagon spokesman Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters Tuesday that he did not believe any of the aid from the pier had yet reached people in Gaza. Sullivan said a day later that some aid had been delivered “specifically to the Palestinians who need it.”

American officials hope the pier at maximum capacity can bring the equivalent of 150 truckloads of aid to Gaza each day. That’s a part of the 600 truckloads of food, emergency nutritional treatments, and other supplies that USAID says are needed each day to address the humanitarian crisis brought on by the seven-month-old Israel-Hamas war, which broke out with the terror group’s devastating October 7 assault on Israel.

Israeli and Egyptian restrictions on land crossings and a surge in fighting have cut deliveries of food and fuel in Gaza to the lowest levels since the first months of the war, international officials say. Israel’s takeover this month of the Rafah border crossing, a key transit point for fuel and supplies for Gaza, has contributed to bringing aid operations near collapse, the UN and relief groups say.

File: Palestinians storm trucks loaded with aid brought in through a new US-built pier, in the central Gaza Strip, May 18, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Egypt has insisted that it will not allow deliveries to resume through the Rafah crossing until it is back under Palestinian control.

All 2.3 million people of Gaza are struggling to get food, according to aid groups, with the heads of the WFP and USAID having said famine has begun in north Gaza.

The US pier project to bring aid to Gaza via the Mediterranean Sea has had a troubled launch. Groups of people overran a convoy Saturday and took most of the supplies, and a man in the crowd was shot dead in still-unexplained circumstances.

Saturday’s chaos forced the suspension of aid convoys from the pier for two days. Shada Moghraby, the WFP’s spokesperson at the UN, said trucks carrying aid from the pier arrived at a UN warehouse Tuesday and Wednesday, but it wasn’t clear how many.

The WFP had warned this week that the US project could fail unless Israeli authorities gave clearances and cooperation for alternate land routes and better security.

Humanitarian officials and the US say the sea route is not a replacement for bringing aid through land crossings, and they have repeatedly called on Israel to allow a steady large flow of trucks through entry points and to ensure aid workers are safe from the Israeli military.

The pier’s success remains tenuous because of the risk of terrorist attacks, logistical hurdles, and a growing shortage of fuel for the aid trucks due to Israeli restrictions since Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel, killing some 1,200 people and seizing 252 hostages amid acts of brutality and sexual assault.

The image provided by US Central Command shows US Army soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), US Navy sailors assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, and Israel Defense Forces placing the Trident Pier on the coast of Gaza Strip, May 16, 2024. (US Central Command via AP)

Israel fears Hamas will use fuel in the war, but it asserts it places no limits on the entry of humanitarian aid and blames the UN for delays in distributing goods entering Gaza. Israel has opened a pair of crossings in the north to deliver aid into the territory’s hard-hit north in recent weeks.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 35,000 people in the Strip have been killed or are presumed dead in the fighting so far, though only some 24,000 fatalities have been identified at hospitals. The tolls, which cannot be verified, include some 15,000 terror operatives Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

Two hundred and eighty-six soldiers have been killed during the ground offensive against Hamas and amid operations along the Gaza border. A civilian Defense Ministry contractor has also been killed in the Strip.

Most Popular
read more: