May 16, 2024 - World

Gaza pier ready to receive humanitarian aid shipments, U.S. military says

Construction of a temporary port to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza in April 2024.

Construction of a temporary port to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza in April 2024. Photo: U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM)/Anadolu via Getty Images

The U.S. military said on Thursday it completed construction of a temporary floating pier in Gaza that will allow for the delivery of critical humanitarian aid to Palestinians.

Why it matters: The pier opens another badly needed delivery route into the enclave, which has been besieged for months amid the Israel-Hamas war. Parts of Gaza are already experiencing famine, United Nations officials have said.

  • "Trucks carrying humanitarian assistance are expected to begin moving ashore in the coming days," U.S. Central Command said. "The United Nations will receive the aid and coordinate its distribution into Gaza."

Zoom out: President Biden announced the pier's construction about two months ago.

  • Israel increased humanitarian deliveries to Gaza after agreeing to do so in the aftermath of its military killing seven World Central Kitchen aid workers in airstrikes.
  • However, U.S. officials have said that the increased aid has not been enough to alleviate a risk of famine in northern Gaza.
  • Officials with the U.S. Agency for International Development said last month that famine had already started in northern Gaza and could spread south.

Between the lines: While the pier is one of the U.S.' largest humanitarian initiatives for Gaza during the war, it is at the same time set to move forward with a new $1 billion sale of arms and ammunition to Israel.

  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken said earlier this month that it was "reasonable to assess" that Israel has used U.S.-provided weapons "in instances inconsistent with its international law obligations or with established best practices for mitigating civilian harm."
  • Blinken also said that Israel has not shown the U.S. a plan for protecting civilians in Gaza despite repeated warnings from U.S. officials, including Biden, for it to reduce civilian casualties in the enclave.

The big picture: Israel's seizure of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza last week and the possibility of a wider offensive in Rafah has raised concerns that aid deliveries could be disrupted.

  • Food and other supplies are running low in the southern Gaza city from millions of Palestinians sheltering there after being displaced from northern Gaza, according to AP.
  • More than 35,000 Palestinians have died since last October, according to the World Health Organization. The Hamas attack on Oct. 7 killed at least 1,100 people, with dozens of hostages still unaccounted for.

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