May 19, 2024

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The war between Israel and Hamas: The US army finishes building a floating dock for the Gaza Strip

The war between Israel and Hamas: The US army finishes building a floating dock for the Gaza Strip

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military finished installing a floating dock off the Gaza Strip on Thursday, as officials prepared to begin transporting badly needed humanitarian aid to the enclave besieged by seven months of intense fighting in the war between Israel and Hamas.

The final construction schedules a complex delivery more than two months from the United States This was ordered by President Joe Biden To help Palestinians suffering from hunger, as Israeli restrictions on border crossings and violent fighting prevent them Food and other supplies of his own making To Gaza.

fraught Logistical, weather and security challengesPavement Project – Expected to cost $320 million – It aims to increase the amount of aid entering the Gaza Strip, but it is not considered a substitute for cheap land deliveries, which relief agencies say are more sustainable.

Boat loads of aid will be deposited at a port built by the Israelis just southwest of Gaza City It is distributed by relief groups.

US officials said on Thursday that up to 500 tons of food would begin arriving on the Gaza shore within days, and that the United States had closely coordinated with Israel on how to protect ships and personnel working on shore.

But questions remain about how aid organizations can safely work in Gaza to distribute food to those who need it most, said Sonali Korde, assistant administrator for USAID’s Office of Humanitarian Assistance, which helps with logistics.

“There is a very unsafe working environment,” Kordi said, and aid groups are still struggling to obtain permission for their planned movements in Gaza. Those talks with the Israeli military “need to get to a place where humanitarian aid workers feel safe, secure and able to work safely.” “I don’t think we’re there yet.”

Clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian activists on the outskirts of the southern city of Jerusalem Rafah United Nations officials say that Israel’s resumption of combat operations in parts of northern Gaza has led to the displacement of about 700,000 people. Israel recently seized the main Rafah border crossing in its campaign against Hamas.

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Pentagon officials say the fighting does not threaten the new coastal aid distribution area, but made clear that security conditions will be closely monitored and could lead to the sea route being closed, even temporarily.

In a conference call, Sonali Korde, of the US Agency for International Development, said more work must be done with the Israeli military to keep humanitarian relief workers in Gaza safe.

Indeed, the site was targeted by mortar shells during its construction, and Hamas threatened to target any foreign forces that “occupy” the Gaza Strip.

“Protecting participating U.S. forces is a top priority. As such, in the past few weeks, the United States and Israel have developed an integrated security plan to protect all personnel,” said Navy Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, deputy commander of the U.S. military’s Central Command. “We We are confident in the ability of this security arrangement to protect those involved.”

Central Command said that American forces stabilized the pier on Thursday morning, stressing that none of its forces entered the Gaza Strip nor did they enter during the pier operations. She added that trucks loaded with aid will move to the beach in the coming days and that “the United Nations will receive the aid and coordinate its distribution in Gaza.”

Officials said the World Food Program would be the UN agency handling the aid.

Israeli forces will be responsible for security on the beach, but there are also two US Navy warships near the area, the USS Arleigh Burke and USS Paul Ignatius. Both are destroyers equipped with a wide range of weapons and capabilities to protect American forces abroad and allies ashore.

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British logistics ship RFA Cardigan Bay will also provide support, Cooper said.

Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Nadav Shoshani confirmed that the pier had been connected and that Israeli engineering units had leveled the land around the area and paved roads for trucks.

Shoshani said: “We have been working for months to fully cooperate with (the US Army) on this project and to facilitate and support it in any way possible.” “It is a top priority in our operation.”

The United Nations, the United States and international relief organizations say Israel has allowed only a fraction of the pre-war food and other supplies to reach Gaza since Hamas attacks on Israel launched the war in October. Aid agencies say food is running out in southern Gaza and fuel is running low, while the US Agency for International Development and the World Food Program say famine has taken hold in northern Gaza.

Israel says it places no restrictions on the entry of humanitarian aid and blames the United Nations for delays in distributing goods entering Gaza. The United Nations says fighting, Israeli fire and chaotic security conditions have hampered aid deliveries. Under pressure from the United States, Israel in recent weeks opened two crossings to deliver aid to hard-hit northern Gaza, and said that a series of Hamas attacks on the main crossing, Kerem Shalom, had disrupted the flow of goods.

The first cargo ship carrying food left Cyprus last week and the shipment was transferred to the US military ship Roy B. Benavidez off the coast of Gaza.

Installation of the floating pier several miles (kilometres) off the coast and the bridge, which is now connected to the beach, were delayed for about two weeks due to bad weather that made conditions extremely dangerous.

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Military commanders said aid delivery would start slowly to ensure the system works. They will start with about 90 truckloads of aid per day via the sea route, and this number will quickly rise to about 150 per day. But aid agencies say this is not enough to avoid famine in Gaza and should be just one part of a broader Israeli effort to open land corridors.

Scott Ball, associate director of Oxfam, said that because land crossings could bring in all the aid needed if Israeli officials allowed them, the US-built dock and sea route “is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.” Humanitarian organization.

Under the new sea route, humanitarian aid will be disembarked in Cyprus where it will undergo inspection and security screening at the port of Larnaca. They are then loaded onto ships and transported 200 miles (320 kilometers) to a large floating dock built by the US military off the coast of Gaza.

There, the pallets are transferred to trucks, transferred to smaller military boats and then transported several miles (kilometres) to the bridge moored off the beach. Trucks being made Led by employees from another countryThey will descend the bridge to a safe area on land where aid will be delivered and then immediately turn around and return to the boats.

Relief groups will collect supplies to distribute at the beach.

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Associated Press writers Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Julia Frankel in Tel Aviv, Israel, and Tara Cobb in Washington contributed to this report.