U.S. to install floating pier, causeway for Gaza aid

The U.S. military is installing a floating pier and causeway to enable ships and up to 150 trucks per day to bring aid into Gaza. Photo by U.S. Department of Defense

May 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. military is scheduled to begin installing a floating pier and causeway Wednesday night that will enable humanitarian aid shipments for Gaza residents.

The installation will take up to 48 hours to complete before the temporary pier and causeway can accept shipments of food and other aid for Gaza.

Gaza has two overland entry points for aid at Kerem Shalom and Rafah, but Hamas rocket attacks recently forced Israel to temporarily close the Kerem Shalom crossing.

The Rafah crossing is imperiled as Israel begins its final push against four remaining Hamas brigades that are in the southern Gaza city.

"Humanitarian actors are facing significant challenges getting aid into Rafah given the closure of critical border crossings as well as accessing warehouses and distributing aid due to the deteriorating situation," USAID response director Daniel Dieckhaus told reporters Wednesday.

The U.S. military is towing the floating pier and causeway system from Israel's Ashdod port that is located about 15 miles north of Gaza.

Once the floating pier arrives, U.S. military personnel will erect the system and anchor it to the shore.

President Joe Biden first announced plans to construct the pier in his March State of the Union address as the humanitarian situation worsened in Gaza and as the Biden administration began voicing frustration with Israel over the ballooning Palestinian death toll and the lack of humanitarian aid reaching the Palestinian enclave.

Construction of the pier began about three weeks ago, with work fishing about a week ago, but inclement weather delayed its deployment.

Britain's first delivery of nearly 100 tons of aid, consisting of 8,400 shelter kits, left Cyprus for the pier on Wednesday, it said in a statement.

Israeli Defense Forces will keep Hamas away from the beachhead while the United Nations coordinates the delivery of aid from Cyprus.

The floating pier and causeway initially will handle about 90 aid trucks per day, but the number should increase to about 150 trucks per day once the pier and causeway are at full capacity, according to the Department of Defense.

Pentagon officials estimate the floating pier and causeway to cost about $320 million to build and install.

Dieckhaus said about 450,000 Gazans have fled Rafah since May 6 as Israel prepared to enter the city to root out Hamas.

The United States on Oct. 8, 1997, listed Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization.