Home News Pentagon says Army begins construction of floating aid dock off Gaza coast

Pentagon says Army begins construction of floating aid dock off Gaza coast

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Army engineers on Thursday began building a floating dock and causeway for humanitarian aid off the Gaza coast that will help aid workers deliver up to 2 million meals a day to the enclave’s residents, defense officials said.

Rear Adm. Patrick S. Ryder, the Defense Department press secretary, said the construction of “the initial phase of offshore temporary piers and causeways” means the project’s timing is in line with Pentagon officials’ projections. The purpose of the building is to allow humanitarian aid to enter the besieged strip, bypassing Israeli restrictions on land convoys.

Gen. Ryder said defense officials expect the project, which President Biden ordered early last month, to be completed early next month. The facility is intended to include an offshore platform for transferring aid from ships, as well as a floating dock for delivering aid to shore.

Aid groups welcomed the plan, which would complement US military airdrops of humanitarian supplies in Gaza. But aid workers say and Defense Department officials acknowledge that maritime programs are not a sufficient replacement for land-based fleets. When the war began more than six months ago, such aid convoys declined sharply; Only partially restored.

Some U.S. military officials have also privately expressed safety concerns about the project, and Gen. Ryder said the military was investigating a mortar attack on Wednesday that caused minimal damage to an area where some dock work was supposed to take place. . However, he said the U.S. military had not yet begun delivering anything to the area when the mortar attack occurred.

The floating dock is being built next to a warship off the coast of Gaza. Defense officials say warships are large, bulky vessels and therefore have armed escorts, especially when they come within range of the Gaza coast.

United Nations said famine may occur In Gaza at the end of May.

Aid workers described bottlenecks at crossings due to long truck inspection times, limited crossing times and protests by Israelis, and they also highlighted the difficulties of distributing aid inside Gaza. Israeli officials deny they are impeding the flow of aid, saying the United Nations and aid groups are responsible for any backlog.

Top Biden administration and military officials detailed a complex plan in a call with reporters at the Pentagon Thursday afternoon, explaining how the pier and causeway would come together and how it should work. Army engineers are building the facility on a naval ship in the eastern Mediterranean. An official said “sea assembly of key components” at the terminal began on Thursday.

Biden officials insist the Pentagon can ship aid via floating docks without putting U.S. boots on the ground in Gaza. Officials described a complex shuttle system through which aid is loaded onto Cypriot naval vessels and then delivered to a causeway, a floating platform, offshore.

The Pentagon’s military abbreviation for the program is J-Lots, which stands for “Joint Coast Logistics.”

The sea causeway is not the same as the floating docks used to unload aid into Gaza. An Israeli military engineering unit will anchor the floating pier off the Gaza coast, a senior military official told reporters on a Pentagon conference call.

Shuttle ships operated by aid groups, the United Nations or other countries are expected to transport the aid to floating docks, where it will be loaded onto trucks driven by “third parties,” the official said. He declined to identify the third party.

Israel will send a brigade to provide security for U.S. troops and rescue workers working at the dock, the official said.

The official said the operation is expected to provide enough assistance for about 90 trucks per day, a number that will increase to 150 trucks per day when the system reaches full operating capacity.

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