Israel-Hamas war: US military completes construction of floating barge for Gaza Strip

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. military completed the installation of a floating ship in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, as officials prepared to ferry badly needed humanitarian aid into the besieged territory in seven months of intense fighting in the Israel-Hamas war.

Final construction sets up a complex delivery process of more than two months after the US President Joe Biden ordered To help prevent Israeli border crossing restrictions and heavy fighting for starving Palestinians Food and other products from its preparation Inside Gaza.

full of Logistical, meteorological and security challengesPier Project – Cost Expected $320 million – is designed to increase aid flows within the Gaza Strip, but is not intended to replace much cheaper deliveries by land, which aid agencies say are more sustainable.

Aid boats will be docked at an Israeli-built port facility southwest of Gaza City. Distributed by support groups.

U.S. officials said Thursday that 500 tons of food would begin arriving ashore in Gaza in a few days, and that the U.S. was coordinating closely with Israel on how to protect ships and crews working ashore.

But questions remain about how aid groups can safely distribute food to those in need in Gaza, said Sonali Korte, assistant administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance, which helps with logistics.

“There is a very insecure operating environment” and aid groups are still struggling to get permission for their planned operations in Gaza, Korte said. Those talks with the Israeli military “need to go to a place where humanitarian aid workers feel safe and secure. I don’t think we’re there yet.

Clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian militants on the outskirts of the southern city Rafa In addition, UN officials have reported that about 700,000 people have been displaced due to Israel’s resumption of hostilities in some parts of northern Gaza. Israel recently captured the key Rafah border crossing in its push against Hamas.

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Pentagon officials said the fighting did not pose a threat to the new coastal aid delivery area, but they clarified that security conditions would be closely monitored and could prompt a temporary shutdown of the sea route.

Already, the site has been targeted with mortar shells during its construction, and Hamas has threatened to target any foreign forces that “occupy” the Gaza Strip.

“The safety of participating U.S. forces is paramount. And over the past several weeks, the United States and Israel have developed a coordinated security plan to protect all personnel,” said Navy Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, deputy commander of U.S. Army Central Command. “We are confident in the ability of this security arrangement to protect those involved.”

US troops docked on the ship Thursday morning, and the Central Command said none of its forces had entered the Gaza Strip and had not during the ship’s operations. It said trucks with aid would move ashore in the coming days and “the United Nations will receive aid and coordinate deliveries to Gaza.”

The World Food Program handles this aid through the UN. Officials said that the company will be.

Israeli forces remain in charge of shore protection, but the USS Arleigh Burke and USS Paul Ignatius, two US Navy warships, are also stationed near the area. Both are destroyers with a wide range of weapons and capabilities to protect US troops overseas and allies on the coast.

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

Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Nadav Shoshani confirmed the ship had been docked and that Israeli engineering units had leveled around the area and built roads for trucks.

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“We have been working on this project (with the US military) for months in full cooperation, facilitating it and supporting it in any way we can,” Shoshani said. “It’s a priority in our process.”

The UN, US and international aid groups say Israel is allowing only a fraction of the normal pre-war supply of food and other supplies to Gaza since Hamas attacks on Israel started the war in October. Aid agencies say food is running out and fuel is running low in southern Gaza, while famine has hit northern Gaza, according to USAID and the World Food Program.

Israel says there are no limits on humanitarian aid and has blamed the UN for delays in delivering supplies into Gaza. The UN says fighting, Israeli fire and chaotic security conditions are hampering the delivery. Under pressure from the United States, Israel has opened a pair of crossings to deliver aid to hard-hit northern Gaza in recent weeks, saying a series of attacks by Hamas on the main crossing of Kerem Shalom had disrupted the flow of goods.

The first cargo ship loaded with food left Cyprus last week and transferred the cargo to the US military ship Roy P. Benavidez off the coast of Gaza.

Installation of the floating vessel several miles (kilometers) from the coast and a causeway, now anchored off the coast, was delayed by nearly two weeks due to bad weather, which made conditions extremely dangerous.

Military leaders have said aid will begin slowly to ensure the system works. They will start with around 90 truckloads per day via sea route and that number will soon grow to around 150 per day. But aid agencies say this is not enough to avert famine in Gaza and must be part of a broader Israeli effort to open land routes.

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Oxfam’s co-director Scott Paul said the US-built shipping and sea route is “a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist” because land routes can bring all the aid needed if Israeli authorities allow it. humanitarian organization.

Under the new sea route, humanitarian aid is dropped off in Cyprus, where it will undergo inspection and security checks at the port of Larnaca. It is then loaded onto ships and transported about 200 miles (320 kilometers) to a large floating barge built by the US military off the coast of Gaza.

There, the pallets are transferred to trucks, loaded onto small military barges, and then sent several miles (kilometers) to a land bridge anchored along the coast. Existing trucks Operated by personnel from another countryDescending the causeway into a safe area on land, they leave the aid and immediately turn back to the boats.

Aid teams will collect supplies for distribution ashore.


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

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