May 22, 2024

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The United States faces obstacles in delivering aid to Gaza after the completion of the construction of the dock

The United States faces obstacles in delivering aid to Gaza after the completion of the construction of the dock

US Army/AFP

In this photo provided by the U.S. Army, Soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) and Sailors attached to the ship M/V Roy P. Benavidez assemble a Ro-Ro Distribution Facility (RRDF), or floating dock, off the coast of Gaza in the Mediterranean Sea on April 26, 2024. The pier is part of the Army’s Joint Logistics Overshore System (JLOTS) that provides critical bridging and water access capabilities.



CNN

Much-needed humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza, at least for the next few days, will remain stranded off the coast of Gaza on a US Navy cargo ship, as the United States continues to face obstacles to reaching Gaza. The floating dock was built Found and operating in the eastern Mediterranean.

The pier and bridge, known as Joint Logistics onshore Services or JLOTS, will eventually be used by the United States, its allies and aid organizations to deliver aid to Gaza by sea from Cyprus. But the system had to be transported to the port of Ashdod last week due to rough seas, and it has not yet left.

Even when JLOTS becomes operational, weather and sea conditions may severely limit the ability to use the floating dock.

It can only be operated safely in conditions with waves at a maximum of 3 feet and winds below about 15 mph, according to a 2006 Naval War College paper on the systems’ limitations. Predicting sea conditions from Israeli Naval Data Center It shows that waves are often at or near the 3-foot limit in the area.

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“JLOTS operations, which must take into account safety and productivity requirements, must often wait for favorable weather and sea state conditions,” the authors wrote.

A defense official confirmed to CNN that the restrictions on the dock system are accurate.

“The bottom line is that strong waves are having an impact on the ability to execute the JLOTS mission,” the official said. If the winds or waves are stronger, loading and unloading using the JLOTS dock becomes dangerous.

American officials said that there is another factor that may complicate the matter further, which is the way in which Israel will decide to proceed with its operation in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. A major Israeli attack there could raise additional security concerns and affect the timing of construction of the pier and bridge in the eastern Mediterranean. The scheduled staging area for aid once it reaches Gaza has been hit by mortar shells and rockets at least twice in the past few weeks, CNN reported.

A Pentagon spokesperson told CNN on Thursday that the United States still aims to move the system into place and begin the process “in the coming days.” Currently, a massive barge called the M/V Sagamore that will be used to deliver the initial pallets of humanitarian aid from Cyprus to the dock, has begun transferring supplies to another ship currently off the coast of Gaza, called the M/V Roy B. Benavidez.

The Benavidez ship, contracted by the US military, has been in the eastern Mediterranean since last month to support sea corridor efforts.

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The United States is also still finalizing plans for who will actually move humanitarian aid from pier to shore in Gaza, according to several American officials familiar with the matter.

The UK initially offered to provide personnel to help move aid trucks from the bridge built by the US military off the coast of Gaza to the beach, where they will be transported by UN staff under the supervision of the World Food Programme, officials said. But sources said the British recently withdrew this offer amid security concerns.

Meanwhile, the United States has ruled out using its forces to transport aid to shore, because the Biden administration does not want American personnel to come close to Gaza, officials said.

A British government spokesperson said the UK “currently has no plans to deploy armed forces personnel to Gaza as part of this initiative, but we are working closely with the US, Cyprus and other allies to ensure aid can be delivered quickly during this period.” The sidewalk once it is completely installed.

Another diplomatic source familiar with the discussions confirmed that there were talks in which the UK offered to push aid across the bridge leading to the pier, as part of a “range of contingency plans” that had been developed.

“But at the moment there are no plans for the UK to participate in this way,” the source added, adding that “the most likely scenario is the presence of an undecided third party.”

“Non-American civilian contractors will drive those vehicles on the bridge leading to the beach,” Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters on Thursday.

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The officials and another source familiar with the matter told CNN that one plan being discussed is for Israeli contractors to transport the aid. But that may also change and has not been finalized, although the Pentagon expects the pier will be operational in the next few days.

The Israeli army agreed to provide a wide security perimeter around the dock system and the assistance operation. This has made some humanitarian groups and UN officials uncomfortable given the IDF’s history of targeting aid convoys and the perception that they are operating under the control of the IDF, CNN previously reported. But the plan is for the Israeli military to remain at a relative distance while transporting aid and unloading it onto the beach in Gaza, officials told CNN.