Army Begins Building Floating Aid Pier Off Gaza’s Coast, Pentagon Says

Army engineers on Thursday began construction of a floating pier and causeway for humanitarian aid off the coast of Gaza, which, when completed, could help relief workers deliver as many as two million meals a day for the enclave’s residents, Defense Department officials said.

The construction on the “initial stages of the temporary pier and causeway at sea” means that the project’s timing is in line with what Pentagon officials had predicted, Maj. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder, the Defense Department’s press secretary, said. The construction is meant to allow humanitarian aid to bypass Israeli restrictions on land convoys into the besieged strip.

General Ryder said that defense officials expected the project, ordered up by President Biden early last month, to be completed early next month. The facility is meant to include an offshore platform to transfer aid from ships, and a floating pier to bring the aid to shore.

Aid organizations have welcomed the plan, which will be an addition to the airdrops of humanitarian supplies that the U.S. military has been conducting over Gaza. But aid workers say, and defense officials have acknowledged, that the maritime project is not an adequate substitute for land convoys. Such aid convoys fell sharply when the war began more than six months ago and have only partly recovered.

Some U.S. military officials have also privately expressed security concerns about the project, and General Ryder said that the military was looking into a mortar attack on Wednesday that caused minimal damage in the area where some pier work is supposed to be done. However, he said, U.S. forces had not started moving anything into the area at the time of the mortar attacks.

The floating pier is being built alongside an Army ship off the Gaza coast. Army ships are large, lumbering vessels, so they have armed escorts, particularly as they get within range of Gaza’s coast, defense officials have said.

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