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Aid starts flowing into Gaza over U.S. pier

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid began arriving in Gaza on Friday using a temporary US-built dock, delivering desperately needed supplies to the besieged Palestinian enclave.

The floating dock is part of a makeshift effort to avert possible famine in Gaza, where the Israeli military assault has closed a number of crucial crossing points for supplies of food, fuel and other aid.

Israeli forces continued their large-scale operations against Hamas in the north and south of the enclave, while the country’s lawyers defended their ground offensive in Rafah before the United Nations’ highest court.

Aid trucks began entering Gaza around 9 a.m. local time (2 a.m. ET), U.S. Central Command said in a statement. job the X, a day after the military finished installing the pier.

“No US troops have landed in Gaza,” CENTCOM said. “This is an ongoing multinational effort to provide additional assistance to Palestinian civilians in Gaza via a maritime corridor that is entirely humanitarian in nature,” the text adds, noting that aid is being provided by a number of countries and humanitarian organizations.

On Thursday, the newly installed Trident Pier on the Gaza coast.US Central Command via AP

The Rafah crossing, Gaza’s main aid entry point, has been closed for almost two weeks after Israeli forces seized the Palestinian side in a ground attack that saw them sink deeper into eastern Rafah and force hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to withdraw. evacuate the city once designated a “safety zone”.

The nearby Kerem Shalom crossing – where four Israeli soldiers were killed in a recent Hamas attack – was also closed, but the Israeli military said it had since opened, along with an entry point separated, the “Erez West” passage.

The Biden administration has expressed growing frustration with the situation in Gaza, warning it would suspend the shipment of some weapons if the US ally carries out a full-scale invasion of Rafah.

The Israeli military said Friday that its troops continued to operate in “several locations” in the city and had dismantled a long-range rocket launch site.

It also said troops had “expanded combat zones and intensified operational control” around Jabalia in northern Gaza, where thousands of people have been displaced by renewed fighting in areas the IDF previously declared to have cleaned.

Israel defended its operations in Rafah, saying they were currently “limited”, before the International Court of Justice on Friday in a case brought against South Africa, accusing the country of genocide following its Gaza offensive. But Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said more troops should join ground operations.

Local health officials say more than 35,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel launched its attack following the October 7 Hamas attacks, in which some 1,200 people were killed and about 250 others taken. as hostages, according to Israeli officials.

Israel and the United States have rejected the genocide allegations.

As fighting continues, aid groups and doctors have sounded the alarm over the limited flow of aid into Gaza in recent days.

Displaced Palestinians queue to buy water from a truck next to their temporary camp in Rafah on Friday.AFP-Getty Images

Although delivering food and other supplies to Gaza by land is much more efficient, recent convoys have been attacked by Israeli settlers and activist groups seeking to prevent aid from reaching Gaza until Hamas still holds Israeli hostages.

Some trucks came from neighboring Jordan. Two senior Jordanian officials told NBC News that their convoys were attacked by Israeli hardliners and that the Israeli military had not adequately addressed the problem.

Palestinian-American doctor Adam Hamawy said help of all kinds was urgently needed in Rafah, where he volunteers at one of the city’s last functioning hospitals under increasingly worrying circumstances.

“I see little kids running around who are basically just skin and bones,” he told NBC News on Wednesday. “Food becomes an issue where everyone eats one minimum meal a day.”

The United Nations thanked the United States for its efforts on Thursday, but also warned that the flow of aid to Gaza cannot depend on the temporary jetty.

A ship is parked near the dock on Thursday.Abdel Karim Hana / AP

State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel stressed during a press briefing that the US pier was meant to “add to other routes” facilitating aid to Gaza.

“Although this is a new assistance mechanism for Gaza, of course more needs to be done,” he said.

Israel has placed responsibility for delays in reopening the Rafah crossing on Egypt, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telling CNBC’s Sara Eisen on Wednesday, “we want to see it open.” Egypt said Israel was clearly responsible for keeping the crossing closed since its takeover from the Palestinian side.

The construction of the US pier comes as the UN humanitarian chief warned that famine had become an immediate risk in Gaza as food dwindled in the enclave.

“Food stocks that were already in place in southern Gaza are running out. I think there are almost none left,” Martin Griffiths, the under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, told Reuters in an interview in Geneva.

Patel said Thursday that the United States was “deeply concerned by reports of worsening conditions and imminent famine in Gaza.”

“Israel must do more to urgently provide sustainable and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance in northern and southern Gaza,” he said.

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