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Thursday, May 23, 2024

US to build temporary port to deliver Gaza aid

The US military will build a temporary pier on the Palestinian enclave’s coast, the president said

The US Army will construct a temporary pier on the Gazan coast in order to deliver humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinian enclave, President Joe Biden said during his State of the Union address on Thursday night.

The war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas entered its fifth month this week. The US earlier began airdropping packages of aid into Gaza, and the new method is set to facilitate the deliveries by sea.

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“Tonight I’m directing the US military to lead an emergency mission to establish a temporary pier in the Mediterranean on the coast of Gaza that can receive large shipments carrying food, water, medicine and temporary shelters,” Biden said.

He added that “no US boots will be on the ground.”

A senior White House official told reporters that the pier will be able to bring “hundreds of additional truckloads of assistance each day.” The first shipments will come via Cyprus, the official said.

According to the official who spoke to reporters shortly before Biden delivered his address, the US will “coordinate with the Israelis on the security requirements on land,” and work with the UN and humanitarian groups to distribute the aid. The new method will “take a number of weeks to plan and execute,” the official said.

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More than 30,000 people have been killed in Gaza since October, according to local Hamas-run authorities. Almost 90% of Gaza’s pre-war population have become refugees, with UN aid chief Martin Griffiths warning last week that life is “draining out of Gaza at terrifying speed.”

Israel declared war on Hamas after the militants unexpectedly attacked cities in the southern part of the country on October 7, killing some 1,200 people and taking more than 200 hostages. Dozens of captives were subsequently released in prisoner swaps during a weeklong ceasefire in November.

Israel has rejected calls for a comprehensive ceasefire, insisting on its goal to completely “eliminate” Hamas in Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces and the government have rejected the accusations of “genocide,” and argued that Hamas is using Palestinian civilians as human shields.