Tuesday, July 23, 2024

The US military shows reporters the dock project in Gaza as it makes another stab at delivering aid

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With American soldiers within striking distance of Gaza’s bombed coast, the US military makes another attempt to deliver aid to starving Palestinians by sea.

After several interruptions, the $230 million pier was up and running again. The US military invited journalists to tour it on Tuesday, the first time international media witnessed its operations live.

International journalists have not been allowed to enter Gaza independently since then The war between Israel and Hamas It started on October 7th.

The project, which was first launched in mid-May, Operations resumed last week After its recent stop due to sea turbulence.

As reporters watched on Tuesday, American soldiers carrying machine guns were directing dock operations. American ships carrying trucks loaded with humanitarian aid docked at the pier.

Israeli and Cypriot drivers unloaded the trucks from the ships and headed across the 400-meter (437-yard) bridge to the beach, where they unloaded the aid.

The trucks then returned to the ships to be transferred to larger cargo ships and reloaded. Cargo ships travel across the Mediterranean from Cyprus.

Colonel Samuel Miller, commander of Joint Task Force, US Army’s 7th Transportation Brigade, said ships can transport aid to the dock at least five times a day.

“Our mission here is to receive those humanitarian aid platforms off the shore from a larger ship to that floating dock,” he said, shouting amid the waves crashing on the pier. “Over time, we learn organization and we have improved.”

The floating dock has been installed Return to Gaza beach on June 19 After strong waves and strong winds led the army to separate it from the beach. in May, Similar circumstances forced a two-week hiatus In operations after the pier collapsed and four US Army ships ran aground, injuring three service members, one of them in serious condition.

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Since returning to work, the pier has been transporting hundreds of aid pallets daily to shore, Miller said.

From the sidewalk, Associated Press journalists could see aid piling up against a backdrop of near-total devastation. Israeli army vehicles moved slowly between the demolished buildings along the coast. Tents stood on the beaches in the distance.

So far, about 6,200 metric tons (6,800 tons) of aid from the project has been delivered to the Gaza shore, the US military said.

While aid is arriving from the pier to the shore, it remains difficult to get it to Palestinians in Gaza. The United Nations World Food Programme Suspending the delivery of aid from the sidewalk because of Security concerns After the Israeli army appeared to be using the area in a hostage rescue operation on June 8. The chaos around the pier, where hungry Palestinians grab aid from trucks heading to delivery areas, is also a major concern.

The United States launched the project to provide relief to Gaza, where the Israeli military offensive against Hamas has displaced more than 80% of the Strip’s population of 2.3 million and unleashed a humanitarian catastrophe. International officials say hundreds of thousands of people as well On the verge of starvation.

UN officials and other international aid officials have expressed doubts about the pier, saying its effectiveness is limited and it is not an alternative to Israeli-controlled land crossings into the Strip.

UN officials told the AP on Tuesday that they are considering suspending all aid operations throughout Gaza unless steps are taken to better protect humanitarian workers. This would plunge Gaza into a deeper humanitarian catastrophe.

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Palestinians in Gaza rely heavily on UN aid, which has only flowed into the Strip since an early May Israeli incursion into the city of Rafah, the southernmost city of the Gaza Strip, closed one major land crossing and slowed deliveries from another major crossing.

However, soldiers manning the pier Tuesday were optimistic.

“I talk to sailors on a daily basis,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Joel Stewart. “They realize that our aid is essential to the people of Gaza who are suffering under conditions of war.”

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Associated Press writer Julia Frankel in Jerusalem contributed to this story.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Gaza on https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

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