US suspends aid deliveries via Gaza pier after it suffers serious weather damage

Pentagon says it needs a week or more to recover detached parts and vessels, tow pier to Israel for repairs and then return it to Gaza; Ashdod Port still receiving aid via sea

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

A US Army landing craft is seen beached in Ashdod on Sunday, May 26, 2024, after being swept by wind and current from the temporary humanitarian pier in the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
A US Army landing craft is seen beached in Ashdod on Sunday, May 26, 2024, after being swept by wind and current from the temporary humanitarian pier in the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The US military has suspended aid deliveries into the Gaza Strip by sea, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, after its temporary pier was damaged by bad weather.

The disruption came less than two weeks after the US began operating the pier, which cost $320 million to assemble.

Well over a week will be required before the pier will be operational again, Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh said in a briefing with reporters.

US forces will first need to recover a portion of the pier and four accompanying army vessels that broke off from the rest of the pier and beached on the shores of Gaza and Israel over the past several days, Singh explained, adding that this process will take roughly 48 hours.

The stump of the T-shaped pier remains anchored to the Gaza shore but will need to be removed over the next two days before being towed back to Israel’s Ashdod Port so that the weather-caused damages can be repaired by US Central Command.

“The rebuilding and repairing of the pier will take at least over a week, and following completion, it will need to be re-anchored to the coast of Gaza,” the Pentagon spokesperson said, declining to give a more precise timeline.

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, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (Photo by AFP)

The project has come under significant criticism due to its high cost and limited success rate thus far, but Singh insisted that the pier has proved “highly valuable in delivering aid to the people of Gaza,” having delivered over 1,000 metric tons of humanitarian aid for civilians.

Even though the Gaza pier will not be operating for the immediate future, Israel’s Ashdod Port continues to receive aid via the Mediterranean Sea and can do so at a far greater scale, as it is larger and more established. That aid is then transferred into Gaza through one of several Israeli land crossings, through which the vast majority of assistance continues to be funneled.

Last week, the UN said aid from the pier was successfully distributed in Gaza for the first time

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 was started by the terror group’s devastating October 7 assault on Israel in which terrorists killed some 1,200 people and kidnapped 252.

The ensuing Israeli offensive on Hamas in Gaza has caused a humanitarian crisis in the enclave with much of the population at risk of starvation, according to human rights organizations and the United Nations.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 36,000 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-eight IDF 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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