July 24, 2024

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US aid shipments to Gaza by sea suspended after damage to temporary dock

US aid shipments to Gaza by sea suspended after damage to temporary dock

TEL AVIV – The US military was forced to suspend aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip by sea after a temporary dock system off Gaza was damaged due to bad weather, the US Department of Defense confirmed on Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, we had a perfect storm coming from the high seas states,” Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said at a news conference.

Army engineers are rebuilding the pier, and the Defense Ministry hopes it will be “fully operational in a little over a week,” Singh said.

Singh spoke after NBC News, citing information from a UN official, a US official and an Israeli official, reported that a bridge connecting to the beach in Gaza had been damaged.

The aid unloaded on the huge floating dock is transported to the bridge by small boats. The UN official said the repair could take a week.

The damage is the latest setback for the temporary dock system, which President Joe Biden announced during his State of the Union address in March and went into operation just two weeks ago.

US Central Command said that over the weekend, four small US military boats that were participating in transporting aid broke away from their moorings due to bad weather. Two of them were washed up on the coast of southern Israel near the city of Ashdod, while the other two reached the shore in Gaza.

An American service member also remains in critical condition in an Israeli hospital after suffering non-combat injuries on a sidewalk last week, a US defense official said. Two other service members suffered minor injuries.

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The temporary dock, known in military parlance as the Joint Logistics Capacity ashore, is designed to deliver more aid to Gaza and help stave off famine, which the United Nations says has broken out in the north of the blockaded enclave.

Israeli security officials in Cyprus inspect aid ships before they set sail for the temporary dock located several miles off Gaza.

The first sign of problems with the bridge came from video Which appeared on Israeli social media on Monday. In the video, a man believed to be an Israeli soldier in Gaza recorded what appeared to be a piece of the floating bridge in the Mediterranean Sea.

The man said in Hebrew: “Look what is happening to the American ship. It is simply cut off and practically submerged.” “Everything is drowning.”

At least one truck appeared to be on the detached section of the bridge in the video.

The Pentagon says the dock, at full operational capacity, should be able to deliver up to 150 trucks of aid per day.

The US military also dropped aid into Gaza by parachute. But this has been criticized as expensive and inefficient, especially when compared to delivery through land crossings controlled by Egypt and Israel.

New obstacles to helping the besieged Palestinians emerged after the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced last week that he was seeking to arrest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli Defense Minister. The court also announced that it was seeking to issue arrest warrants against Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and other Hamas leaders.

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The ICC alleges that Israeli leaders bear criminal responsibility for a list of “war crimes,” including starvation of civilians.

Israel strongly denied these accusations, and pointed to the dock as evidence that it was working to deliver food to Gaza by sea, as well as by air and land.