UN resumes transporting aid via US-built pier after Gazans intercepted trucks

Aid was halted for two days while the UN sought an alternate route to prevent trucks from being looted before they reach distribution points

Illustrative: Palestinians rush trucks as they transport international humanitarian aid from the US-built Trident Pier near Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on May 18, 2024. (AFP)
Illustrative: Palestinians rush trucks as they transport international humanitarian aid from the US-built Trident Pier near Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on May 18, 2024. (AFP)

The United Nations said Thursday that it has resumed transporting humanitarian aid arriving at a United States-built pier off the coast of the Gaza Strip, after deliveries were halted for two days because some truckloads of aid had been intercepted by Palestinians.

Aid deliveries began arriving at a US-built pier last Friday, as Israel has come under growing global pressure to allow more supplies into the besieged coastal enclave, where it is at war with Palestinian terror group Hamas and where international organizations have warned famine looms.

The UN is coordinating aid distribution at the floating dock but has remained adamant that aid deliveries by land are the “most viable, effective and efficient” way to combat the humanitarian crisis in the enclave of 2.3 million people. The UN has said at least 500 trucks a day are needed to enter Gaza.

Ten truckloads of aid — driven from the pier site by UN contractors — were received on Friday at a World Food Program (WFP) warehouse in Deir El Balah. But on Saturday, only five loads made it to the warehouse after 11 others were intercepted.

The UN halted transport for two days while it came up with a new route. WFP spokesperson Shaza Moghraby said on Thursday that deliveries had resumed on Tuesday, with 17 trucks arriving at the warehouse, while on Wednesday there were 27 trucks.

“All commodities have been accounted for to my knowledge and no incidents were reported,” Moghraby said, adding that some aid is for the WFP to distribute, while the rest is for other aid groups operating in Gaza.

Palestinians line up for a meal in Rafah, Gaza Strip, December 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair, File)

The pier operation — announced by US President Joe Biden in March — has been estimated to cost $320 million and involve 1,000 US service members, but Biden has made clear that no US troops will set foot in Gaza.

A US official said on Thursday that so far, some 800 metric tons of aid had been delivered off the pier to a staging area. USAID said that as of Tuesday, more than 307 metric tons of aid had been transported “to onward points in Gaza.”

The aid offloaded at the pier comes via a maritime corridor from Cyprus, where it is first inspected by Israel.

So far, 3,474 pallets of aid have been shipped out of the Cypriot port of Larnaca, with each pallet weighing about a ton, a Cypriot Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Thursday.

It was not immediately clear how much aid was currently positioned in Cyprus for delivery via the maritime corridor.

Trucks loaded with humanitarian aid from the United Arab Emirates and the United States Agency for International Development cross the Trident Pier before entering the beach in Gaza, May 17, 2024. (Staff Sgt. Malcolm Cohens-Ashley/US Army Central via AP)

US officials have said that once up and running, the pier would initially handle 90 trucks a day, but that number could go to 150 trucks.

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, in a move aimed at preventing Hamas from arming, has contributed to bringing aid operations near collapse, the UN and relief groups say.

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 war broke out on October 7 with Hamas’s unprecedented attack on Israel in which terrorists murdered some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapped 252.

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.

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