June 16, 2024

U.S.-built floating pier near Gaza repaired, aid to resume in coming days

The floating pier built by the U.S. military in the Mediterranean Sea to transport humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip has been repaired, U.S. Central Command announced Friday.

The pier began delivering aid last month but was damaged a week later due to strong winds and rough seas. A large platform broke apart from the causeway that connects the pier to the beach.

Four Army vessels operating at the pier ran aground in the storm, injuring three service members. 

Central Command said in a post on X, formerly Twitter,  it “successfully reestablished the temporary pier in Gaza” at 2:15 p.m. local time (7:15 a.m. Eastern). It added that humanitarian aid transported through the pier will resume to people in Gaza in the coming days.

The U.S. sent the damaged sections of the pier to the Israeli coastal city of Ashdod for repairs.

Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, deputy of Central Command, told reporters Friday the U.S. hopes the pier will import 1 million pounds of food and other supplies to Gaza every two days.

The Pentagon estimates the damages to the pier cost $22 million. 

The Defense Department revised down its estimate of the total cost of the project this week from $320 million to $230 million, which includes the repairs.

Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh attributed the savings to lower-than-expected costs contracted trucks, drivers and commercial vessels  and the United Kingdom provided a berthing vessel for soldiers and sailors.

Asked if Central Command was making any modifications to the pier to prevent it from being damaged again, Singh said officials might decide to take it offline during inclement weather. 

After Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and abducting 250 others, Israeli forces unleashed an extensive aerial bombardment and large-scale ground invasion in Gaza. Nearly 35,000 people, mostly women and children, have been killed in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

According to the Health Ministry in Gaza, nearly 35,000 people in the territory had been killed in the war as of April 30 and about 80% of the population has been displaced. 

This week, the group Famine Early Warning Systems Network said it “is possible, if not likely” that famine is underway in northern Gaza.

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