Gaza Strip | Pier won’t replace ground aid, White House says

(Washington) The pier under construction in Gaza should make it possible within “two to three weeks” to transport more humanitarian aid into the Palestinian territory bombed and besieged by Israel, the White House said on Sunday.

But this transport by sea cannot replace land convoys, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby stressed on Sunday.

This facility “will certainly increase the volume of aid delivered,” but “nothing can replace land routes and trucks coming in” to Gaza, John Kirby said in an interview on ABC.

“We will probably have to wait two to three weeks before an operation,” he said.

Faced with delays and blockages from Israel regarding the delivery of humanitarian aid by land in a Gaza Strip hit by a humanitarian disaster, American President Joe Biden announced in early March the construction of an artificial port.

The humanitarian aid will first arrive in Cyprus, where it will be subject to verification, then will be prepared for delivery, a senior American military official said Thursday.

It will then be transferred to a floating platform off the coast of Gaza and then to the pier – for which the Pentagon announced the start of construction on Thursday – where it will be taken care of by humanitarian partners and transported to the territory by trucks.

This move will not involve “ground troops” on Palestinian territory, officials said. However, American soldiers will be near the Gaza Strip during the construction of the pier, which must be supervised by Israeli troops.

The Israeli army said on Saturday it hoped to have the pier “fully functional” by early May.

The UN and NGOs regularly point out that this type of initiative cannot, however, replace an essential increase in the entry of humanitarian aid by land for a hungry population facing shortages of medical equipment.

Under pressure from its American ally, Israel announced at the beginning of April “immediate measures to increase humanitarian aid” to Gaza, via the port of Ashdod and the Erez crossing point.

“They have increased the number of trucks entering Gaza,” but “there are still challenges on the ground to get goods to the north,” Mr. Kirby said on Sunday.

The war in Gaza was triggered after the unprecedented attack by Palestinian Hamas on October 7 on Israeli soil, which resulted in the death of 1,170 people, according to an AFP report based on official Israeli data.

Israel’s vast military operation in response has caused a humanitarian catastrophe and left more than 34,400 dead in the Gaza Strip, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas health ministry.

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