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Despite New US Pier Access, Aid Distribution in Gaza Faces Continued Challenges

Trucks arrive at newly built U.S. pier in Gaza but challenges over enough aid persist

On Friday, trucks transporting essential aid for the Gaza Strip made their way through a recently constructed U.S. pier into the blockaded area. Despite obstacles posed by Israeli restrictions and ongoing conflict, this delivery signals the start of an operation envisioned by U.S. military officials to potentially increase to 150 truckloads daily.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby announced that “more than 300 pallets” of aid were included in the initial delivery, handed over to the U.N. for distribution.

Despite this progress, the U.S., U.N., and aid groups emphasize that the floating pier project cannot replace the capacity of land deliveries, which brought over 500 truckloads daily before the conflict.

Aid Distribution in Gaza Faces Continued Challenges

The operation’s success is precarious due to militant threats, logistical challenges, and fuel shortages caused by the Israeli blockade since Hamas’ October 7 attack. The assault by militants killed 1,200 people and took 250 hostages, leading to an Israeli offensive that has killed over 35,000 Palestinians in Gaza, according to local health officials.

The U.S. military’s Central Command confirmed the completion of the floating pier installation on Thursday, with the first aid crossing into Gaza at 9 a.m. Friday. The U.S. plan involves the U.N. World Food Program managing the aid distribution, coordinating truck arrivals, and overseeing goods transfer from the floating dock to warehouses across Gaza.

The U.K. also contributed aid, including temporary shelter kits, tents, forklifts, and hygiene kits. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called for more land routes to be opened to ensure aid reaches civilians in desperate need.

While the start of the maritime operation is a positive step, Jens Laerke of the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs stressed that aid delivery should not depend solely on a floating dock far from areas of greatest need. Anastasia Moran of the International Rescue Committee criticized the pier project for diverting resources from scaling up aid delivery.

During the recent nine-day period, only a limited number of trucks carrying food and flour entered Gaza through land crossings. The U.N. warns that almost no fuel is getting through. Israel fears Hamas will misuse fuel but claims it places no limits on humanitarian aid entry, blaming the U.N. for distribution delays.

The pier project, ordered by U.S. President Joe Biden and expected to cost $320 million, has faced security concerns. The construction site has been targeted by mortar fire, and Hamas has threatened to target any foreign forces in Gaza.

U.S. Navy warships are nearby to protect personnel, and aid is collected and inspected in Cyprus before being shipped to Gaza. The operation highlights the urgent need for more effective aid delivery routes to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

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