US resumes aid delivery into Gaza using floating pier but distribution has not resumed

The US restarted delivering aid into Gaza using its temporary pier on Thursday, according to US Central Command.

The US dismantled the pier temporarily on June 14 for the second time since the pier was originally anchored on May 17. The pier was dismantled to avoid damages due to the anticipation of heavy seas, CENTOM said.

As CNN reported earlier, the pier was reattached on Wednesday.

The assistance delivered on Thursday included 1.4 million pounds of aid, the largest single-day delivery of aid to date, according to CENTCOM.

Crucially, though, the aid being delivered across the pier is not yet being distributed inside Gaza. The distribution partner, the UN World Food Programme, paused distribution pending a comprehensive security review following an Israeli military operation to recover four hostage that killed scores of Palestinians. Rumors circulated about the use of the humanitarian pier for the military operation – which have been thoroughly denied – but the perception around its use increased the already stark risks to the humanitarian workers.

The United Nations has laid out to the COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for aid in Gaza, a series of risk mitigation steps that must be taken before they assess it is safe to resume operations, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN. One of the sources said those steps were laid out to COGAT in a letter this week. The other said there were intensive efforts underway to see the conditions, which they did not detail, are met.

“A thorough security assessment is being conducted by our Department of Safety and Security to ensure the safety of UN staff and partners. If that assessment can conclude that the UN can resume operations, then the World Food Programme stands ready to do so based on its core humanitarian principles,” UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Thursday. “The basic problem is one of a lack of public order and that is creating a situation on the ground that is very difficult for the provision of aid.”

World Food Programme chief Cindy McCain said on Thursday that they were awaiting clearance from the UN’s Department of Safety and Security to resume operations on the pier.

“We have not gotten that clearance from them yet, so I’m guessing that they’re still in discussions with the Israelis on this. Our hands are bound right now, because we simply can’t go in. But let’s be very clear: We are ready, we are able, and we can operate at full scale when we get the go-ahead, but I’ve got to keep our people safe,” she said in an interview with al-Monitor.

To date, more than 9.1 million pounds of humanitarian aid have been delivered from the pier to the marshaling area where it can be collected by humanitarian organizations for onward delivery, the command said.

The first time the pier was reattached to the beach was after it was damaged in heavy seas. The damage to the pier was a major blow to the American-led effort to create a maritime corridor for humanitarian supplies into the war-torn enclave.

The pier is the result of months of work by US officials trying to come up with a way to get aid into Gaza in addition to dropping it out of planes or trucking it through border checkpoints.

The temporary pier, called the Joint Logistics Over the Shore (JLOTS), requires very good sea conditions to operate. The US began constructing the pier and causeway in April, and it began operating on May 17.

The JLOTS system consists of two parts: the floating pier where shipments are offloaded and the causeway to transfer the shipments to the distribution point in Gaza.

The pier’s construction came as the humanitarian situation in Gaza deteriorated and the death toll from Israel’s bombardment climbed. In Gaza, the entire population has faced food insecurity.

US officials previously told CNN the US military is likely to operate the pier for at least three months, but the ultimate goal is to turn it into a full-time commercial operation that can be used by other countries and non-governmental organizations.

CNN’s Richard Roth and Natasha Bertrand contributed reporting.

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