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US navy suffers Gaza pier setback

Four vessels were grounded after disconnecting from a $320 million floating pier off the coast of Gaza

Four US navy vessels, which had been connected to a floating pier off the coast of Gaza, have broken off their moorings and run aground on an Israeli beach due to a storm, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) has said.

The pier, built on orders from US President Joe Biden to deliver aid to Gaza amid the Israeli military operation, has been in operation since last week. According to the Pentagon, the project is expected to cost the US around $320 million.

Four vessels were disconnected from a jetty on Saturday, CENTCOM said, adding that there were no deaths or injuries, and that the pier’s operations were unaffected.

The first ship became stuck on a beach in the Israeli port city of Ashdod, and another vessel sent to extract it also ran aground, the Times of Israel reported.

“Two vessels are now anchored on the beach near the pier,” CENTCOM said, adding that the third and fourth ships were beached on the coast near the Israeli city of Ashkelon.

According to CENTCOM, efforts to recover the vessels are being assisted by the Israeli military. “No US personnel will enter Gaza” during the operation, it stressed.

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An aid truck arrives at a temporary pier built by the US military on the Gaza Strip's coast.
US troops hurt during Gaza relief mission

Earlier this week, three US soldiers were injured while working on the pier, and one required hospitalization in Israel.

The UN, which distributes aid from trucks ferried by US ships to the pier, said deliveries had to be halted on Sunday and Monday after Palestinians rushed at the moving trucks and looted their entire cargo. The capture “represents a minority of the overall shipments,” Daniel Dieckhaus, USAID’s Gaza Response Manager, said in a briefing on Friday.

“This humanitarian maritime corridor alone is not enough to meet the staggering needs in Gaza, but it is an important addition. It is meant to augment, not replace or substitute for land crossings into Gaza,” Dieckhaus told reporters.

The pier – which is able to carry only a small fraction of the humanitarian aid that could potentially be brought through Israel-controlled land routes into Gaza – has been slammed by US lawmakers citing the high cost and danger to personnel.

Earlier this month the UN warned that the humanitarian aid ground route had been completely blockaded due to Israel’s offensive in the southern Gazan city of Rafah. Egypt has maintained a blockade on the Rafah crossing since Israel forces captured the Gaza side of the border.


READ MORE: US completes aid pier at Gaza beach

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi agreed on Friday to funnel humanitarian aid trucks to the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, at the border juncture between Egypt, Israel and Gaza.

May 26, 2024 at 03:19PM
RT

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