The war between Israel and Hamas: Gaza aid is transported via a new dock built by the United States. There are still challenges

WASHINGTON (AP) — Trucks carrying much-needed aid to the Gaza Strip passed through a newly built U.S. pier and entered the besieged enclave for the first time Friday under Israeli restrictions on border and border crossings. Fierce fighting It hampered the delivery of food and other supplies.

the The shipment is the first in the process Which US military officials expect will reach 150 truckloads per day, all while Israel puts pressure on the southern city of Rafah in its seven-month offensive against Hamas. At the White House, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that “more than 300 pallets” of aid were in the initial delivery phase and had been delivered to the United Nations, which was preparing them for distribution.

Kirby said the United States had obtained indications that “some of this aid was already moving into Gaza.”

This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows a dock installed by the US military in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, May 16, 2024. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

But the United States, the United Nations and aid groups warn that the floating dock project is no substitute for land handovers that could be undertaken. Bring all the necessary food, water and fuel in Gaza. Before the war, more than 500 truckloads entered the Palestinian territories daily.

the The success of the operation also remains poor Due to the risk of armed attacks, logistical obstacles and increasing fuel shortages for aid trucks due to the Israeli blockade of Gaza since the Hamas attack on October 7. The militants killed 1,200 people and took 250 others hostage in that attack on southern Israel. Local health officials say the Israeli offensive since then has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians in Gaza, while hundreds more have been killed in the West Bank.

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Aid agencies say food is running out in southern Gaza, while the United Nations World Food Programme Famine has already taken hold In northern Gaza.

The forces finished installing the floating dock on Thursday, and the US Army Central Command said that initial aid crossed into Gaza at 9 a.m. Friday. She added that no American soldiers came to the beach during the operation.

The Pentagon said that no backup support was expected in Distribution process. The American plan stipulates that the United Nations, through the World Food Program, will assume responsibility for the aid once it leaves the dock. This will include coordinating the arrival and registration of empty trucks, supervising the transfer of goods arriving via the floating dock to trucks and sending them to warehouses across Gaza, and finally, handing over supplies to relief groups for delivery.

The World Food Program said on Friday evening that the aid that arrived via the dock had been transferred to its warehouses in Deir al-Balah and was ready for collection and distribution.

The UK said some of its aid for Gaza was in the first shipment to reach shore, including the first of 8,400 temporary shelter kits made of plastic sheeting. She said more aid, including an additional 2,000 shelter kits, 900 tents, five forklift trucks and 9,200 hygiene kits, will be coming in the coming weeks.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “This is the culmination of a painstaking joint international effort.” “We know that the sea route is not the only solution. We need to see more land routes open, including through the Rafah crossing, to ensure more aid safely reaches the civilians who need it most.

The photo, provided by U.S. Central Command, shows U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), U.S. Navy Sailors assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, and the Israel Defense Forces laying the Trident pier on the coast of the Gaza Strip on Thursday.  May 16, 2024. The temporary dock is part of the joint logistics capacity above the beach.  The US military finished installing the floating dock on Thursday, as officials prepared to begin transporting much-needed humanitarian aid to the Strip, which has been besieged by seven months of intense fighting in the war between Israel and Hamas.  (U.S. Central Command via AP)

The photo, provided by U.S. Central Command, shows U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), U.S. Navy Sailors assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, and the Israel Defense Forces laying the Trident pier on the coast of the Gaza Strip on Thursday. May 16, 2024. (U.S. Central Command via AP)

The United Nations humanitarian aid coordination agency said the start of the operation was welcome, but… There is no substitute for deliveries by road.

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“I think all those involved in the operation have said that any assistance arriving in Gaza is welcome in any way,” Jens Laerke, spokesman for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told reporters in Geneva on Friday. Getting aid to people in Gaza “cannot and should not depend on a floating dock far from where needs are greatest.”

Anastasia Moran, associate director of the International Rescue Committee, says the dock actually distracts from the escalating humanitarian crisis.

She added that over the past two months, “the sea route has been consuming a lot of time, energy and resources at a time when aid has not been increased.” “Now that the sea route is operational, the land crossings are effectively closed.”

Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the United Nations, said on Friday that during the nine-day period between May 6, when Israel began the Rafah attack, and May 15, a total of 154 trucks carrying food supplies and 156 trucks carrying flour entered Gaza through three land crossings. Haq also warned this week that fuel will almost never arrive.

Israel fears that Hamas will use fuel in the war, but stresses that it does not place any restrictions on the entry of humanitarian aid and blames the United Nations for delays in distributing goods entering Gaza. Under pressure from the United States, Israel opened two crossings to deliver aid to the northern Gaza Strip, which was severely damaged in recent weeks.

It said that a series of Hamas attacks on the main crossing, Kerem Shalom, had disrupted the flow of goods. The United Nations says fighting, Israeli fire and chaotic security conditions have hampered aid deliveries. There were also violent protests by Israelis that disrupted aid shipments.

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Israel recently took control of the Rafah border crossing in its offensive against Hamas around that city on the Egyptian border, raising concerns about the safety of civilians while also cutting off the main entrance for aid into the Gaza Strip.

US President Joe Biden ordered the sidewalk project, which is expected to cost $320 million. Boatloads of aid will be deposited at a port built by the Israelis southwest of Gaza City. The United States coordinated closely with Israel on how to protect ships and personnel working on shore.

Concerns about the safety of aid workers emerged last month when Israel launched an air strike Seven aid workers from the World Central Kitchen were killed Her trip was coordinated with Israeli officials. The group also brought aid by sea.

Pentagon officials explained that security conditions will be closely monitored and may lead to the closure of the sea route, even temporarily. Indeed, the site was targeted by mortar shells during its construction, and Hamas threatened to target any foreign forces that “occupy” the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces are responsible for security on the beach, but there are also two US Navy warships nearby that can protect US forces and others.

Aid destined for the sea route is collected and inspected in Cyprus, then loaded onto ships and transported about 200 miles (320 kilometers) to a large floating dock off the coast of Gaza. There, the pallets are transferred to trucks that then move to army boats, which will transport the trucks from the pier to a floating bridge moored on the beach. Once the trucks drop off the aid, it returns to the boats.

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Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writers Jamie Keaten in Geneva, Julia Frankel in Jerusalem, Jill Lawless in London and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations, and Darlene Superville and Ellen Knickmeier in Washington.

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