Construction of U.S. military floating pier off Gaza nearly complete
05/19/2024 // Richard Brown // Views

The U.S. Central Command has released images of a floating pier being constructed by the U.S. military off the coast of Gaza. Once completed, the pier is intended to facilitate the delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid to the devastated strip's starving population.

Construction of the temporary pier began at sea last week, and the images show crew members from several military vessels building the platform. Additionally, a satellite image from Planet Labs shows the pier under construction.

Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh stated on Monday that the pier will cost the U.S. approximately $320 million. This estimate includes all expenses related to the initial construction of the system, known as Joint Logistics Over the Shore, or JLOTS. The operational costs of the pier are expected to increase over the next several months.

A senior military official indicated last week that the U.S. is "on track to begin delivery of humanitarian assistance to Gaza from the sea in early May." The initial delivery will be the equivalent of 90 trucks per day of aid, quickly scaling up to 150 trucks per day once full operational capacity is achieved.

The official emphasized that the U.S. military is prepared to execute the mission "for several months," but clarified that there will be no U.S. boots on the ground in Gaza, as President Joe Biden had ruled out when he announced plans for the pier in March. Instead, the Israel Defense Forces will partner with the U.S. military to anchor the causeway to the shore in Gaza "on day one," according to the military official.

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U.S. military likely to operate the pier for at least three months

U.S. officials previously informed CNN that the U.S. military is likely to operate the pier for at least the next three months, with the ultimate goal of turning it into a full-time commercial operation usable by other countries and non-governmental organizations.

Meanwhile, the British Navy support ship RFA Cardigan Bay is sailing from Cyprus to support efforts to build the temporary pier, according to a statement from the Royal Navy on May 11. The British ship will provide "accommodation for hundreds of U.S. sailors and soldiers working to establish the pier," the navy stated.

Once established, the World Food Program (WFP) will support the distribution of aid from the pier, and USAID will collaborate with the United Nations to distribute the aid once it reaches Gaza.

CNN previously reported that aid will flow from Cyprus via commercial vessels, which will travel approximately 200 miles to the floating pier anchored miles off the Gaza coast. The aid will then be transferred onto smaller Army boats, capable of holding about 15 trucks of aid each, which will shuttle to the causeway anchored to the shore.

The construction of the pier comes as the humanitarian situation in Gaza deteriorates and the death toll from Israel's bombardment rises. All 2.2 million people in Gaza are facing food insecurity, with half of the population on the brink of starvation and famine imminent, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC).

Concerns are also growing over an anticipated Israeli military operation in southern Gaza's Rafah, prompting renewed calls for a ceasefire to ensure uninterrupted aid flow. Israel's allies, including the U.S., have warned against the operation due to the potential for large-scale civilian casualties. Recently, 22 people, including at least one infant and a toddler, were killed in an Israeli airstrike over Rafah, according to hospital officials.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated on Monday, May 13, that there has been "measurable progress" in getting aid to Gaza but acknowledged that it is "not enough" to address the humanitarian crisis. Human rights agencies have repeatedly warned that Israel's severe restrictions on aid deliveries mean relief is barely trickling into the strip. Before the war, about 500 trucks of supplies entered the Palestinian enclave daily.

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