U.S. Military Ship Has Set Sail to Help Build Pier Off Gaza for Aid

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The U.S. military said on Sunday that a ship had set sail carrying equipment to build a floating pier on Gaza’s coast, part of a Biden administration effort to deliver aid to the enclave by sea and help ease its hunger crisis.

The administration’s plan for a pier and causeway, announced last week, could eventually help deliver as many as two million meals a day for residents of Gaza. But the Pentagon has said that the project will take weeks to complete, and humanitarian officials have criticized the plans, saying delivering aid by truck is far more efficient.

On Sunday, the U.S. military said that an Army ship, the General Frank S. Besson, had set sail from a base near Norfolk, Va., a day earlier. It was unclear when it would reach Gaza.

“Besson, a logistics support vessel, is carrying the first equipment to establish a temporary pier to deliver vital humanitarian supplies,” it said in a post on social media.

The Pentagon has said that one of the main military units involved in the construction of the floating pier would be the Army’s Seventh Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), and that some 1,000 American service members would work to complete it.

The Israeli military will help coordinate the installation of the pier, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, a spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces, said on Saturday. Shipments will be inspected by Israeli troops before they are handed off to aid groups that will distribute it, he said.

The U.S. project is the latest in a flurry of efforts to get more aid into the enclave — including by sea — amid warnings from the United Nations that a famine in Gaza is imminent.

Such plans will come with significant logistical challenges and a hefty price tag, diplomats and officials have said. Aid officials have said that trucks are the most efficient and cheapest way to deliver food and supplies to Gaza, urging Israel to open more border crossings and ease its entry restrictions.

Britain, the European Union and the United Arab Emirates said on Friday that they would join a separate maritime initiative to get aid into Gaza.

And on Saturday, World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization founded by the renowned Spanish chef José Andrés, said that its staff was loading a cargo ship in Cyprus with 200 tons of rice, flour and proteins. It added that the ship was expected to depart from Larnaca, Cyprus, as soon as possible and head off on an estimated 60-hour trip to the Gaza Strip.

The ship, called Open Arms, is owned by a Spanish aid group of the same name that is a partner in the initiative along with the United Arab Emirates. They are trying to deliver the first sea shipment of food and humanitarian supplies to Gaza.

Helene Cooper, Gaya Gupta and Aaron Boxerman contributed reporting.



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