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Aid is being delivered to Gaza from a recently repaired US-built pier, a US official says | National news

WASHINGTON (AP) — Much-needed aid has been delivered to Gaza from a newly repaired U.S.-built pier, a U.S. official said Saturday, after problems plagued efforts to bring supplies to the Palestinians by sea.

The U.S. Army-built pier was only operational for about a week before it was blown apart in high winds and heavy seas on May 25. The damaged section was reconnected to the beach in Gaza on Friday after repairs at an Israeli port.

Crews delivered about 1.1 million pounds (492 tons) of humanitarian aid to Gaza through the pier on Saturday, the U.S. official said. They spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of an official announcement of the delivery.

It came on the same day that Israel carried out a heavy air and ground strike that rescued four hostages taken by Hamas in the October 7 attack that launched the war in Gaza. At least 210 Palestinians, including children, were killed, a Gaza health official said.

It brings online yet another way to obtain desperately needed food and other emergency supplies for Palestinians trapped in the eight-month war between Israel and Hamas. Israeli restrictions on land crossings and fighting have severely limited the flow of food and other essential supplies into the area.

The damage to the pier was the latest stumbling block for the project and the ongoing struggle to deliver food to starving Palestinians. Three U.S. service members were injured, one seriously, and four ships were stranded due to heavy seas.

Early efforts to get aid from the pier to the Gaza Strip were disrupted when crowds overran a convoy of trucks that aid agencies were using to transport the food, taking the cargo from many of them before they could reach a UN warehouse. Officials responded by changing travel routes and aid began reaching those in need.

Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, told reporters Friday that lessons learned from that first week of operations gave him confidence that larger amounts of aid could now be delivered.

He said the goal was to get 1 million pounds (500 tons or 450 tons) of food and other supplies into Gaza through the pier every two days. More than 1,100 tons of aid was delivered before the causeway disintegrated during the storm, Pentagon officials said.

The U.S. Agency for International Development is working with the U.N. World Food Program and their humanitarian partners working in Gaza to distribute food, quality emergency treatment for starving children and other assistance through the sea route.

Aid groups have pressured Israel to reopen land routes that could bring in all the needed aid. Israel says it has allowed hundreds of trucks through a southern checkpoint and pointed the finger at the UN for not distributing aid. The UN says it is often unable to retrieve aid due to the security situation.

UN agencies have warned that more than 1 million Palestinians in Gaza could experience the highest level of famine by the middle of next month if hostilities continue.

President Joe Biden’s administration has said from the start that the pier was not intended to be a one-stop solution and that any amount of aid helps.

Biden, a Democrat, announced his plan for the U.S. military to build a pier in early March during his State of the Union address, and the military said it would take about 60 days to install and get it operational . It took a little longer than planned: on May 17, the first trucks with relief supplies for the Gaza Strip rolled off the pier.

The initial cost was estimated at $320 million, but the Pentagon said last week that the price had fallen to $230 million, due to contributions from Britain and because the cost of contracting trucks and other equipment was lower than expected .

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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