More than 1 million pounds of aid has reached Palestinians in Gaza through coastal pier

More than 1 million pounds of aid has reached the people of Gaza through a new U.S. military pier, but incoming assistance across the besieged coastal territory remains far below levels that responders want to see.

American troops have helped deliver 1.2 million pounds of aid to Gaza as of Thursday, according to Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, deputy commander of U.S. Central Command.

Cooper told reporters the military has brought 820 metric tons of aid through the pier to the shore since it was brought online Friday, with 106 metric tons delivered to Palestinians in Gaza.

“We’re currently in a warm start period,” he added, noting there are thousands of tons of aid in the pipeline. “Efforts are underway to scale up in the coming days.”

But the amount of aid entering across Gaza has plunged in recent weeks. The United Nations warned earlier this week it would have to halt food distribution in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where Israeli troops are conducting limited operations against Palestinian militant group Hamas.

After taking the Rafah corridor, Israel now controls all of the land crossings into Gaza, and human rights groups have accused Israeli forces of impeding access into the strip.

Dan Dieckhaus, response director at the United States Agency for International Development, said only 70 trucks entered Gaza on Wednesday. But Diekchaus said the maritime pier has proved vital, with 27 of those trucks coming through that corridor Wednesday.

“In addition to the maritime quarter, every land crossing needs to be open and operate at maximum capacity and efficiency,” he told reporters. “Every moment that a crossing is not open … is a terrible human cost in this conflict.”

The maritime corridor starts at the island nation of Cyprus, which receives aid from international humanitarian aid groups and donor countries. Ships then transport that aid to a U.S.-built floating dock miles off the coast of Gaza.

The U.S. military then brings that aid to a pier attached to a beach in Gaza, where the United Nations and other humanitarian aid workers bring it to the shore for distribution. The U.S. has around 1,000 troops on the mission, but they are not putting boots on the ground in Gaza.

The pier has had complications. At least one truck was looted, and a Hamas drone attack miles away from the pier led to the freezing of aid convoy movements.

Cooper said that force protection remains a priority and that the U.S. is coordinating with Israeli forces from a cell team inside of Israel to oversee the convoys in the surrounding area of the pier.

And three U.S. troops deployed on the mission were recently injured, but they were not combat related, according to Cooper, who described two of the injuries as a sprained ankle and a hurt back.

Dieckhaus described operating in a “wartime environment” as one of the major challenges of getting aid into Gaza, whether from the pier or elsewhere.

“There are wartime hazards, there’s active fighting,” he said. “Some of this assistance is reaching warehouses, some of this is being distributed immediately to those in need, but all of this requires constant maneuvering and these variables come and go. Sometimes one risk is more prevalent than another.”

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