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Gaza aid pier to cost US at least US$320 million: Pentagon

WorldGaza aid pier to cost US at least US$320 million: Pentagon

At that point, aid will be transported via commercial vessels to a floating platform miles off the Gaza coast, where it will be transferred to smaller vessels, brought to the pier and taken to land by truck for distribution.

Plans for the pier were first announced by US President Joe Biden in early March as Israel held up deliveries of aid by ground.
US Navy personnel construct a ‘Joint Logistics Over-the Shore’ temporary pier. Photo: US Central Command via Reuters

Satellite photos analysed on Monday by Associated Press show the USNS Roy P. Benavidez about 8km (5 miles) from the port on shore, where the base of operations for the project is being built by the Israeli military.

The USAV General Frank S. Besson Jnr, an army logistics vessel, and several other US Army boats are with the Benavidez and working on the construction of what the military calls the Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore, or JLOTS, system.

A satellite image from Sunday by Planet Labs PBC showed pieces of the floating pier in the Mediterranean Sea alongside the Benavidez. Measurements of the vessel match known features of the Benavidez, a Bob Hope-class vehicle cargo ship operated by the Military Sealift Command.

A US military official confirmed late last week that the Benavidez had begun construction and that it was far enough off shore to ensure troops building the platform would be safe. Singh said on Monday that next will come the construction of the causeway, which will then be anchored to the beach.
Under the plan by the US military, aid will be loaded on to commercial ships in Cyprus to sail to the floating platform now under construction off Gaza.

The pallets will be loaded on to trucks, which will be loaded on to smaller ships that will travel to a metal, floating two-lane causeway. The 550-metre (1,800-ft) causeway will be attached to the shore by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).

A satellite photo shows the USNS Roy P. Benavidez off the coast of Gaza on Saturday. Photo: Planet Labs PBC via AP

The US military official said on of its engineering units has teamed with an IDF engineering unit in recent weeks to practice the installation of the causeway, training on an Israeli beach just up the coast.

The new port sits just southwest of Gaza City, a bit north of a road bisecting Gaza that the Israeli military built during the current fighting against Hamas.

The area was the territory’s most populous before the Israeli ground offensive rolled through and pushed more than 1 million people south toward the city of Rafah on the Egyptian border.

Now Israeli military positions sit on either side of the port, which initially had been built, as part of an effort led by World Central Kitchen, out of the rubble of buildings levelled by Israel.

That effort halted after an Israeli air strike killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers on April 1 as they travelled in clearly marked vehicles on a delivery mission authorised by Israel. The organisation says it is resuming its work in Gaza.

Aid has been slow to get into Gaza, with long backups of trucks awaiting Israeli inspections.

The US and other nations also have used air drops to send food into Gaza. The US military official said deliveries on the sea route initially will total about 90 trucks a day and could quickly increase to about 150 trucks daily.

Aid organisations have said several hundred such trucks are needed to enter Gaza every day.

In the aftermath of Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel, which killed 1,200 people and saw 250 others taken hostage, Israel cut off or heavily restricted food, water, medicine, electricity and other aid from entering Gaza.
Under pressure from the US and others, Israel says the situation is improving, though United Nations agencies have said much more aid needs to enter.

Home to 2.3 million people, Gaza has found itself on the precipice of famine. More than 34,500 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the fighting began, local health authorities say.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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