American aid dock in Gaza damaged by rough seas

The temporary pier that the US military built and put in place to deliver much-needed humanitarian aid to Gaza broke due to rough seas, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

The latest calamity to befall the pier venture has punctuated several particularly grim days in Gaza, where Israeli forces have stepped up attacks on the city of Rafah just two days after carrying out a deadly attack that killed dozens of people .

“Unfortunately, we had a perfect storm in high seas conditions and then, as I said, this North African weather system also came through at the same time, creating a suboptimal environment to operate,” Sabrina Singh, Pentagon deputy press secretary. , he said at a press conference.

Army engineers are working to put the pier back together, and Defense Department officials hope “it will be fully operational in just over a week,” he said.

In early March, President Biden surprised the Pentagon by announcing that the US military would build a dock into Gaza. Defense officials quickly predicted there would be logistical and security problems.

In the days after the dock went live on May 17, trucks were looted on their way to a warehouse, forcing the United Nations World Food Program to suspend operations. After authorities tightened security, the weather worsened. American officials hoped the storm surges would not begin until late summer.

On Saturday, heavy seas forced two small American naval vessels that were part of the dock operation to run aground in Israel. On Sunday, a portion of the pier broke off completely, including a larger parking area to unload supplies carried by the ship, officials said. That part will need to be reconnected.

The pier is now being removed from the Gaza coast for repairs after being damaged by rough seas, Ms Singh said. In the next two days it will be collected and taken to Ashdod, in southern Israel, for repairs.

He said the fact that the $320 million pier managed to get 1,000 tons of aid to Gaza before it broke down shows it can work.

White House policy does not allow U.S. troops to remain in Gaza, so the Pentagon was able to start but not finish the mission.

And while the pier project struggles, the situation in Gaza remains dire. Even before Sunday's deadly Israeli attacks, more than 34,000 people had died and more than 77,000 were injured, according to health officials in the territory.

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