May 19, 2024

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The United States is building a dock off Gaza to bring in humanitarian aid. Here's how it will work

The United States is building a dock off Gaza to bring in humanitarian aid.  Here's how it will work

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and its allies are scrambling to assemble a complex The system that will transport tons of humanitarian aid To Gaza by sea. Nearly two months after President Joe Biden issued the order, US Army and Navy forces are assembling a large floating platform several miles off the coast of Gaza that will serve as a launching pad for deliveries.

But any final aid distribution — which could begin as early as May — will depend on A A complex logistical and security plan With many moving parts and details yet to be finalized.

The United Nations says relief is urgently needed People in Gaza are on the brink of starvation. But widespread security concerns remain. Some aid groups say that with more aid needed, the focus should instead be on getting Israel to ease… Obstacles to the delivery of aid On land roads.

The Pentagon said Monday that the system is expected to cost at least $320 million to build. Here's how it will work:

It all starts in Cyprus

Humanitarian aid is heading to Gaza via Sea road It will be delivered by air or sea to Cyprus, an island located on the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Constantinos Koumpos said that the aid will undergo security checks at the port of Larnaca. Using this starting point would address Israeli security concerns of inspecting all cargo to ensure that nothing is loaded onto ships that could be used by Hamas against Israeli forces.

The screening will be rigorous and comprehensive, including the use of mobile X-ray machines, according to a Cypriot government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to publicly reveal details about the security operation. The operation will include Cypriot customs, Israeli teams, the United States and the United Nations Office for Project Services.

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A US military official said that the United States had formed a coordination cell in Cyprus to work with the government there, the US Agency for International Development, and the government of Cyprus. Agencies and other partners. The official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of the operation, said the group will focus on coordinating aid collection and inspection.

Then to the floating platform

Once the aid pallets are inspected, they will be loaded onto ships — mainly commercial ships — and transported about 200 miles to a large floating dock the US military is building off the coast of Gaza.

There, the pallets will be transferred to trucks that will in turn be loaded onto two types of smaller Army boats — Logistics Support Vessels, or LSVs, and Landing Craft Utility Boats, LCUs. The LSVs can hold 15 trucks each and the LCUs about five, the US military official said.

Army boats will then move the trucks from the pier to a pontoon bridge, which will be several miles away and moored to the beach by the Israel Defense Forces.

Since Biden made that clear No American forces will set foot in GazaThe troops who build, command and crew the boats will be housed and fed on other vessels offshore near the large floating dock.

The Royal Navy's support ship RFA Cardigan Bay will provide accommodation for hundreds of American sailors and soldiers working to establish the pier. Another contracted ship will also be used for accommodation, but officials did not specify it.

Small boats to the highway

Small army boats will navigate to the two-lane bridge, which is 550 meters (1,800 feet) long.

The US military official said that a US Army engineering unit cooperated with an Israeli engineering unit in recent weeks to practice installing the bridge, and to train on an Israeli beach on the coast. The UK Hydrographic Office also worked with the US and the Israeli military to analyze the coastline and prepare for the final installation.

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American ships will push the floating bridge into place and push it to shore, where the Israel Defense Forces will be prepared to secure it.

Trucks loaded with aid pallets will set off from army boats to the bridge, then descend to a safe area on land where they will deliver the aid, then immediately turn around and return to the boats. Trucks will repeat this loop over and over again, and will be limited to this limited road to maintain security.

They will be Led by employees from another countryBut US officials refused to specify which ones.

Distribution to aid agencies and civilians

Relief groups will collect supplies to distribute on shore, at a port facility built by the Israelis southwest of Gaza City. Officials say they expect about 90 truckloads of aid to arrive per day initially, and the number will quickly rise to about 150 per day.

The United Nations is working with the United States Agency for International Development to establish a logistics center on the beach.

There will be three areas in the port: one controlled by the Israelis where aid will be unloaded from the dock, another where aid will be transported, and a third where UN-contracted Palestinian drivers will wait to receive the aid before taking it. To distribution points.

However, aid agencies say this sea corridor is not enough to meet needs in Gaza and should be just one part of a broader Israeli effort to improve sustainable ground aid deliveries to avoid famine.

Organizations, the United Nations, the United States, and other governments have pointed out the restrictions and limits imposed by Israel on aid Failure to protect humanitarian workers As reasons for the decline in food shipments through land crossings, although they credit Israel with some improvements recently.

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The US envoy to Gaza, David Satterfield, said last week that only about 200 trucks enter Gaza daily, far fewer than the 500 that international relief organizations say are necessary.

Security on and off the ground

The main concern is security – whether from militants or the Israeli army, for which he has been criticized Aid workers killed.

Sonali Korde, a US Agency for International Development official, said key agreements on security and handling aid deliveries were still being negotiated. These include how Israeli forces in Gaza operate to ensure this Aid workers are not harmed.

Relief groups were shaken by the Israeli air strike that killed seven people Help workers in the global central kitchen on April 1 while traveling in clearly marked vehicles on an Israeli-sanctioned delivery mission.

There has already been a mortar attack on the site by militants, reflecting ongoing threats from Hamas, which has said it will reject the presence of any non-Palestinian in Gaza.

American and Israeli officials declined to provide details about security. But the US military official said it will be more powerful when deliveries begin than it is now. There will be daily assessments of force protection needs there.

The Israeli army will handle security on the beach, and the US military will provide its own security for the Army and Marine Corps.

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Associated Press reporters Menelaos Hadjicostis in Nicosia, Cyprus, and Ellen Knickmeyer in Washington contributed.