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US aid pier to be removed from Gaza ahead of high seas

Messenger Desk

Published: 09:49, 15 June 2024

US aid pier to be removed from Gaza ahead of high seas

Photo: Collected 

The American pier being used to deliver aid to Gaza will be temporarily moved to an Israeli port to protect it from anticipated high seas, the US military said Friday.

The pier was only reattached to the Gaza shore a week ago, after suffering storm damage in May that required repairs at Ashdod, where it will return to avoid the latest bad weather.

"Today, due to expected high seas, the temporary pier will be removed from its anchored position in Gaza and towed back to Ashdod, Israel," the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said in a social media post.

"The safety of our service members is a top priority and temporarily relocating the pier will prevent structural damage caused by the heightened sea state," it said.

Aid deliveries via the pier -- which have totaled over 3,500 metric tons (7.7 million pounds) so far -- will resume after the sea has calmed, CENTCOM added.

High seas disrupted aid deliveries for two days starting last weekend, but the pier did not have to be detached from the coast in that case, and they resumed on Tuesday.

In a more serious challenge to efforts to deliver aid by sea, the UN World Food Programme has suspended the distribution of assistance that arrives via the pier to assess the security situation.

The move came after Israel conducted a military operation nearby that freed four hostages, but which Hamas-run Gaza's health ministry said killed at least 274 Palestinians.

Gaza is suffering through a war which broke out after Hamas's unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

The militants also seized 251 hostages. Of these, 116 remain in Gaza, although the army says 41 are dead.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 37,266 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the territory's health ministry.