Aid deliveries to Gaza resume through rebuilt pier

Aid deliveries to Gaza resume through rebuilt pier

/ 09:59 AM June 09, 2024

Aid deliveries to Gaza resume through rebuilt pier

This handout satellite image courtesy of Maxar Technologies shows the the US-built Trident Pier on the coast of Gaza on May 26, 2024. The Pentagon said on May 28 it had suspended aid deliveries into Gaza by the sea after its temporary pier was damaged by bad weather. Agence France-Presse

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES — Humanitarian aid began trickling back into the devastated Gaza Strip on Saturday via a rebuilt, temporary pier, US forces said.

The pier, built by the US military to boost the delivery of direly needed relief supplies, was only briefly operational before it suffered storm damage at the end of May. After repairs, the pipeline was reestablished on Friday.

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Crews delivered about 492 tonnes (1.1 million pounds) of “much needed humanitarian assistance” via the pier on Saturday morning, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) wrote in a social media post.

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READ: US-built pier in Gaza broke apart. Here’s how we got here, what’s next

Aid groups and the United Nations have accused Israel of delaying the entry of water, food, medicines and fuel into Gaza, depriving the territory’s 2.4 million people of lifesaving supplies.

The resumption of the pier comes the same day that Israel mounted an operation in central Gaza to rescue four hostages from a refugee camp where a Hamas-run media office reported the attacks killed 210 Palestinians and wounded hundreds more.

CENTCOM stressed that the pier, its personnel and assets were in no way connected to the hostage rescue operation.

The Israeli military said the four hostages, who were in “good medical condition”, had been kidnapped from the Nova music festival during Hamas’s October 7 attack that sparked the war, now in its ninth month.

READ: Gaza mothers search for milk as malnutrition hits

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Noa Argamani, 26, Almog Meir Jan, 22, Andrey Kozlov, 27, and Shlomi Ziv, 41, had been rescued from two separate buildings “in the heart of Nuseirat” camp in a “complex daytime operation”, the military said.

They are among seven captives that Israeli forces have freed alive since Palestinian militants seized 251 people in their October attack on southern Israel.

There are now 116 hostages remaining in Gaza, including 41 the army says are dead.

Footage posted on social media showed beachgoers erupting into cheers in Tel Aviv when a lifeguard announced the news.

“We have had these hostages in our thoughts for every day for the better part of a year now — to have even a few of them rescued against all odds, it means the world,” 42-year-old Israeli Uriya Bekenstein told AFP.

In Gaza, the Hamas media office said “the number of victims from the Israeli occupation’s massacre in the Nuseirat camp has risen to 210 martyrs and more than 400 wounded”.

Israeli police said an officer was mortally wounded during the rescue operation.

It was carried out despite growing international pressure on Israel after a deadly strike on a UN-run school in Nuseirat where displaced Gazans were sheltering.

Ceasefire ‘essential’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced regular protests demanding a ceasefire deal to bring the captives home, with demonstrators rallying again on Saturday in Tel Aviv.

“Noa (Argamani) is home! We want all of them!” read one banner at the protest.

On Saturday Netanyahu pledged to return the rest of the captives.

His office also released a video of him speaking with Argamani on a mobile telephone.

She said she was “very excited” to return home, adding: “I haven’t spoken Hebrew in such a long time.”

US President Joe Biden welcomed the rescue operation, saying: “We won’t stop working until all the hostages are home and a ceasefire is reached. That’s essential to happen.”

He was speaking in Paris alongside French President Emmanuel Macron, who said: “We rejoice at the release of the four Israeli hostages.”

Near Nuseirat on Saturday, an AFP photographer saw scores of Palestinians fleeing the Bureij camp on foot, fearing further Israeli strikes.

The operation came days after the Israeli strike on the Nuseirat school run by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, which a Gaza hospital said had killed 37 people and the military said targeted “terrorists”.

UNRWA condemned Israel for striking a facility it said had been housing 6,000 displaced people.

Israel accuses Hamas and its allies in Gaza of using civilian infrastructure, including UN-run facilities, as operational centers, charges the militants deny.

The war has brought widespread devastation to Gaza, with one in 20 people dead or wounded, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry. Most of Gaza’s 2.4 million inhabitants are displaced.

Gaza City resident Yussef al-Dalu said his neighbor’s house had been reduced to rubble in an overnight air strike. Emergency services reported five dead.

“Only defenseless civilians live in this house who are not part of any resistance (group),” Dalu told AFP.

‘Challenges remain’

The Hamas attack that triggered the war resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory military offensive has killed at least 36,801 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

Israel faces growing diplomatic isolation, with international court cases accusing it of war crimes and several European countries recognizing a Palestinian state.

Thousands of people marched through London on Saturday calling for a ceasefire, and demonstrators gathered outside the White House to protest against Washington’s support for Israel amid Gaza’s deadliest-ever war.

Facing political pressure, Netanyahu called on war cabinet minister Benny Gantz to “not leave the emergency government” after threats last month to quit unless a post-war plan for Gaza was approved by June 8.

Gantz had earlier cancelled a news conference scheduled for Saturday where Israeli media had speculated he would announce his resignation.

In brief remarks on Israeli television, Gantz on Saturday evening urged his colleagues in government to “look responsibly” into “how we can continue from here”.

Efforts to mediate the first ceasefire in the conflict since a week-long pause in November appear to have stalled after Biden offered the latest plan for a multi-phase truce and hostage release.

Major sticking points include Hamas insisting on a permanent truce and full Israeli withdrawal from all parts of Gaza — demands Israel has rejected.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to visit Israel and key regional partners Egypt, Jordan and Qatar from Monday.

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TAGS: Gaza Aid, Israel-Hamas war

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