Gaza war: US says floating aid pier operational ‘in days’

Image caption, The US military released photos earlier this month showing the pier being built off Gaza’s coast

  • Author, Paul Adams
  • Role, BBC News
  • Reporting from Jerusalem

A floating pier designed to increase the amount of aid getting into Gaza will be operational “within days”, US officials say.

At a briefing for reporters, USAID response director Dan Dieckhaus said construction of the pier – known as a Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore (JLOTS) system – is complete.

Hundreds of tonnes of aid has arrived in Cyprus, where screening takes place before aid is loaded onto ships for delivery to the pier.

Vice-Admiral Brad Cooper, deputy commander of US Central Command, said commercial ships would collect pallets from Cyprus and deliver them to a floating platform anchored several kilometres off the coast of Gaza.

Smaller US military vessels, capable of carrying between five and 15 trucks of aid, will then transport it to a floating causeway, several hundred metres long, fixed to the beach in Gaza.

Trucks will travel along the causeway before dropping off the aid at a marshalling yard on the beach.

Vice-Admiral Cooper said the UN, primarily the World Food Programme, will be responsible for the onward distribution of aid.

They added that the system would be anchored 3 to 5 miles (5-8km) off Gaza’s coast and that the causeway would be attached to the shore overnight, with deliveries starting 24 to 48 hours after installation.

In a separate statement, the UK Foreign Office said nearly 100 tonnes of UK aid, consisting of 8,400 “shelter coverage kits” (temporary shelters make up of plastic sheeting) left Cyprus on Wednesday, bound for the temporary pier.

“We are leading international efforts with the US and Cyprus to establish a maritime aid corridor. Today’s first shipment of British aid from Cyprus to the temporary pier off Gaza is an important moment in increasing this flow,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.

UN officials say there has been substantial co-ordination with the US over the operation of the JLOTS, but that they have lingering concerns about how it will work, whether it will bring what is needed to Gaza, and whether it will prove safe for aid workers and Gazans alike.

Privately, some describe it as a high tech distraction from what is really needed – properly functioning aid crossings and a safe distribution system throughout the Gaza Strip.

The US officials briefing reporters emphasised that the JLOTS is designed to augment existing efforts to bring aid into Gaza, not replace them.

Reference

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