US military anchors pier to Gaza; aid expected within days

The U.S. military has finally anchored its new pier to the coast of Gaza, and officials are expected to soon begin delivery of crucial humanitarian aid to the besieged region.

The pier was completed earlier this month, but its anchoring was delayed by bad weather.

Officials are expected to begin delivering around 500 tons of humanitarian aid in the coming days, offering much-needed relief for Palestinian civilians who lack access to basic necessities including food and water as Israel carries on a war against militant group Hamas in Gaza.

In a press call, Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, said the pier was successfully anchored to a beach in Gaza in the early morning hours on Thursday.

Cooper said there are “hundreds of tons of humanitarian assistance” immediately ready for distribution in the coming days.

“We’ve got thousands of tons in the pipeline,” he added.

Sonali Korde, assistant to the administrator at the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, said the pier would help address a “gap” in humanitarian assistance for the people of Gaza.

“We’re at a point in time when we can’t spare any effort,” she said.

Aid distribution will begin at the island nation of Cyprus, where barges will bring in tons of assistance to a floating dock miles off the coast of Gaza. The aid will then be ferried to the pier on ships before being unloaded off the shore for distribution.

Around 1,000 U.S. troops are taking part in the humanitarian aid mission, but Washington has been firm there will be no boots on the ground. Instead, they will work closely with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the United Nations and humanitarian aid groups to get the aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

Some Republicans have raised concerns about how the U.S. military can stay out of harm’s way, especially after the area near the port on the shore was attacked last month.

But Cooper said the U.S. military has worked closely with the IDF to come up with a security plan, and that Israel has been a supportive partner in the process.

“We worked very closely with the IDF to develop a series of protocols,” he said, saying they had a “high level of confidence” in the mission.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.