US humanitarian aid pier off Gaza to become inoperable for third time in a month

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(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. military is planning to suspend operations to its temporary pier off Gaza on Friday, temporarily moving the structure to an Israeli port to ride out high seas and rough waves expected to hit the region in coming days, according to an official.

It’s the third time in a month that the structure has been deemed inoperable due to weather and the latest setback for the ambitious $230 million humanitarian project involving 1,000 US troops.

“We are doing everything we can to make it work,” the official said.

The difficulties come as time is running out for the U.S. to make use of the pier, which was initially slated as a 90-day project that would likely lose its ability to transit aid at the end of August when heightened sea levels and more frequent storms would force military officials to take it down.

Announced by President Joe Biden in his State of the Union in March, the project was supposed to bring some 2 million meals a day into hunger-stricken Gaza while Israeli officials held up aid trucks at ground crossings, citing security concerns that some of the aid could reach Hamas.

More than 2,500 metric tons of humanitarian aid have been delivered via the pier so far. But U.S. officials acknowledged that much of that aid hasn’t made it to its distribution points.

The U.N. said it suspended deliveries last week entirely due to nearby Israeli military operations that posed security concerns. The U.N. has not said when distribution might resume.

CNN first reported the U.S. military’s plans to move the pier to Ashdod on Friday. It will be the second time the pier has had to be relocated due to weather; the first time, the pier broke apart and had to be repaired. This time, the pier is being moved as a precautionary measure to prevent the temporary floating pier from breaking apart in bad weather.

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