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U.S. aid deliveries to Gaza by sea suspended after damage to temporary pier

TEL AVIV — The US military was forced to suspend maritime aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip after its system of temporary jetties off the coast of Gaza suffered damage due to bad weather, the ministry confirmed Tuesday of the defense.

“Unfortunately, we had a real high seas storm,” deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said at a news conference.

Army engineers are reassembling the pier, and the Defense Department hopes it “will be fully operational in a little over a week,” Singh said.

Singh spoke after NBC News, citing information from a United Nations official, a U.S. official and an Israeli official, reported that a causeway connected to the Gaza beach had been damaged.

Aid unloaded on the huge floating dock is transported across the causeway by small boats. The U.N. official said the repair could take a week.

The damage is the latest setback to the temporary pier system, which President Joe Biden announced during his State of the Union address in March and became operational just two weeks ago.

Over the weekend, four small U.S. military boats involved in transporting aid broke away from their moorings due to bad weather, U.S. Central Command said. Two of them were stranded on the southern coast of Israel, near the city of Ashdod, while the other two were stranded in Gaza.

A U.S. service member also remains in critical condition in an Israeli hospital after suffering non-combat injuries at the dock last week, a U.S. defense official said. Two other soldiers were slightly injured.

The temporary dock, known in military parlance as the Joint Overseas Logistics Capability, was designed to deliver more aid to Gaza and help fight famine, which the UN said broke out in the north of the besieged strip.

Israeli security officials in Cyprus inspect the humanitarian ships before their departure to the temporary dock, located several kilometers off the coast of Gaza.

The first sign of problems with the roadway came in a video posted Monday on Israeli social media. In the video, a man believed to be an Israeli soldier in Gaza filmed what appeared to be a piece of the causeway floating in the Mediterranean.

“Look what’s happening to the American barge: it’s just disconnected and practically flooded,” the man said in Hebrew. “Everything is flowing.”

At least one truck appeared to be on the loose piece of pavement in the video.

At full operational capacity, the pier is expected to be able to deliver up to 150 trucks of aid each day, according to the Pentagon.

The US military also airdropped aid into Gaza. But this has been criticized as both costly and ineffective, especially when compared to delivery via land crossings controlled by Egypt and Israel.

The new obstacles to helping the besieged Palestinians emerged after the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced last week that he was seeking to arrest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s defense minister. The court also announced that it was seeking arrest warrants for Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and other Hamas leaders.

The ICC alleges that Israeli leaders bear criminal responsibility for a list of “war crimes,” including the deaths of starving civilians.

Israel has strongly denied the allegations and cited the pier as evidence that it is working to deliver food to Gaza by sea, air and land.

News Source : www.nbcnews.com
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