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US floating pier begins moving from Ashdod port to Gaza

The floating pier that will allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza from the sea is moving from the port of Ashdod toward Gaza, according to a US defense official.

In addition, military ships that will build the pier and secure it to the beach are also heading to Gaza, the official said.

Concerns about safety and sea conditions delayed movement of the pier for several days. On Tuesday (14), however, Pentagon press secretary Major General Pat Ryder said the structure should be operational “in the next few days.”

The port of Ashdod is approximately 30 nautical miles, about 50 kilometers, from the distribution site in Gaza, where goods will be unloaded from a gangway, meaning the system's components should be in position soon.

The Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore (JLOTS) system consists of two parts: the floating pier where shipments will be unloaded and the walkway to transfer shipments to the distribution point in Gaza.

On Wednesday (15), the United Kingdom announced that its first shipment of humanitarian aid, including 8,400 temporary shelters, departed Cyprus for Gaza. Cyprus is the starting point for humanitarian aid that will be sent to Gaza via the maritime corridor and pier.

“Aid will be distributed within Gaza as quickly as possible,” the UK said in its announcement.

Meanwhile, US humanitarian aid is already positioned on a ship in the port of Ashdod to unload once the pier is ready, the Pentagon said.

The temporary pier is intended to complement the aid that is entering through land crossings into Gaza. The initial aim is to allow 90 aid trucks a day to enter Gaza via the pier, the UK said, a number that could increase to 150 trucks a day when the pier is fully operational.

Last week, the CNN reported that the US still faced several obstacles before JLOTS could begin operating. The US was closely watching whether what it called a “limited” Israeli incursion into Rafah in southern Gaza would affect the temporary pier. Furthermore, the US had not yet finalized plans for who would transport the humanitarian aid shipments from the bridge to the distribution point in Gaza.

On Monday, the Pentagon said it had hired drivers for the pier but declined to identify them.

“I can just say it’s a third-party contractor, but that’s it,” Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said during a briefing. When humanitarian aid reaches Gaza, the UN World Food Program will distribute it to the Palestinian population.

On Tuesday, Ryder said security was in place to allow JLOTS operations to begin when the pier was ready.

“We are confident that we will have the necessary security,” Ryder said.

JLOTS will cost approximately $320 million to operate in the first three months, according to the Pentagon.

Source: CNN Brasil

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