Aid to Gaza via temporary pier suspended after rough seas caused damage, officials

A U.S.-built temporary pier used to deliver additional humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip was damaged by rough seas and temporarily suspended operations, three U.S. officials told The Associated Press (AP).

The pier will be repaired, but it was not immediately clear how long it would take, a fourth U.S. official told the AP.

The Joint Logistics Over The Shore (JLOTS) jetty became operational only in the last two weeks and has provided an additional means of delivering critically needed food to Gaza.

Trucks loaded with humanitarian aid from the United Arab Emirates and the United States Agency for International Development pass through Trident Pier before arriving at a beach in the Gaza Strip on May 17, 2024.
Trucks loaded with humanitarian aid pass through Trident Pier before arriving on a beach in the Gaza Strip on May 17 (Staff Sgt. Malcolm Cohens-Ashley/US Army via AP)

The setback is the latest for the $320 million pier, where three U.S. soldiers have already been injured and four ships washed ashore due to rough seas.

Last week, deliveries were also halted for two days after crowds rushed humanitarian aid trucks from the pier and one Palestinian was shot dead.

On Friday, the Pentagon said the U.S. military was working with the United Nations and Israeli officials to select safer alternative routes for the trucks.

The pier was not fully operational until Saturday, when rough seas unmoored four military boats used to ferry pallets of aid from merchant ships to the pier, which was anchored to the beach and provided a long causeway on which aid could then be rowed to shore.

Two ships washed ashore in Gaza and two others washed ashore on the Israeli coast near Ashkelon.

Before the unfavorable weather conditions and suspension, the pier began to gather steam and by Friday, more than 820 tons of food aid had been delivered from the sea to the Gaza beach via the pier.

U.S. officials have repeatedly stressed that the pier cannot provide the amount of aid starving Gazans need and have argued that more checkpoints should be opened for humanitarian aid trucks.

At maximum capacity, the pier would provide enough food for 500,000 Gazans.

The war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip
(PA Graphics)

U.S. officials have stressed the need for open land crossings for the remaining 1.8 million.

The United States also plans to continue airdrops of food, which also cannot meet all needs.

The deepening Israeli offensive in the southern city of Rafah has prevented aid shipments from passing through the crossing, which is a key source of fuel and food flowing into Gaza.

Israel says it is transporting aid through another border crossing, Kerem Shalom, but aid groups say Israeli military operations are making it difficult for them to retrieve aid there for distribution.