Gaza aid pier removed for repairs after it was hit by storms

Aid being delivered to the Gaza pier (US Central Command (CENTCOM)/AFP)
Aid being delivered to the Gaza pier (US Central Command (CENTCOM)/AFP)

A U.S. military-built pier off Gaza's coast is being temporarily removed after a part of the structure broke off in bad weather.

The accident, confirmed by the Pentagon on Tuesday, is the latest blow to efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians.

The structure was announced by U.S. President Joe Biden in March and involved the military assembling the floating pier off the coast.

Estimated to cost $320 million (£250 million) for the first 90 days and involve about 1,000 U.S. service members, it went into operation two weeks ago.

Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh said a portion of the pier had separated and the pier would be towed over the next 48 hours to Ashdod port in Israel for repairs.

Singh added the pier would take over a week to repair and then returned to its place off the coast of Gaza.

U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters earlier on Tuesday bad weather was believed to be the reason that the part of the pier had broken off.

Since the pier began operations, the United Nations has transported 137 trucks of aid from the pier - the equivalent of 900 metric tons - said a U.N. World Food Programme spokesperson.

The pier only began operations in the past two weeks and has already had three US service members injured and had four of its vessels beached due to heavy seas.

Deliveries were also halted for two days last week after crowds rushed aid trucks coming from the pier and one Palestinian man was shot dead.

After that, the US military worked with the UN and Israeli officials to select safer alternate routes for trucks, the Pentagon said.

The pier was fully functional as late as Saturday when heavy seas unmoored four of the army boats being used to ferry pallets of aid from commercial vessels to the pier.