May 18, 2024

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A huge American dock is scheduled to arrive in Gaza tonight to deliver food and other humanitarian aid

A huge American dock is scheduled to arrive in Gaza tonight to deliver food and other humanitarian aid

The United States has begun moving a floating dock system to deliver vital humanitarian aid into the waters off the Gaza Strip, and expects the system to be installed within the next 24 hours, three US officials said.

The US military began withdrawing the system from the Israeli port of Ashdod, about 20 miles north of Gaza, on Wednesday afternoon. Once installed, officials said deliveries of food and other aid could begin within the first 24 to 48 hours after installation.

The dock system will be anchored 3 to 5 miles off the coast, and food and other aid will be transported from the dock to a bridge on Gaza Beach, which is expected to be installed overnight.

Establishment of a floating dock for humanitarian aid off the Gaza Strip on April 29, 2024. CENTCOM via Getty Images

A defense official said in a statement: “Earlier today, components of the temporary dock that makes up our joint logistics capability ashore, along with the military ships involved in its construction, began moving from the port of Ashdod toward Gaza.” It will be installed on the beach to help deliver international humanitarian aid.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin gave Central Command commander Gen. Michael “Eric” Kurella permission to move forward with installation of the pier, known as the JLOTS system, on Tuesday, officials said.

The system has been assembled and waiting in Ashdod since earlier this month, but the Pentagon has not approved its transport due to weather and security concerns, officials said. It is expected that the sea will be stable over the next few days and the security situation will remain largely unchanged, so the decision was made to move it on Wednesday.

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The aid delivery system is complex, with civilian aid ships, dock, trucks, and smaller US Army boats and bridge involved in transporting supplies to shore, with US Navy ships providing security. But once operational, they can provide much greater assistance than airdrops. Defense officials say its first 48 hours should deliver more aid than all the airdrops so far combined.

Parts of a floating dock next to the US Navy cargo ship Roy P. Benavidez in the Mediterranean Sea on April 26.Maxar via AFP – Getty Images

The United States began Shipping items to build the system from Virginia to the Mediterranean in March, just weeks after President Joe Biden announced plans to construct the pier and deliver aid in his State of the Union address.