US looks to abandon plan to reinstall Gaza pier, says end of the project is coming soon

 WASHINGTON (AP) — Battling rough seas around Gaza, the U.S. now is considering abandoning efforts to reinstall the pier that has been used to get badly needed humanitarian aid to starving Palestinians, two U.S. officials said Thursday. The White House and the Defense Department both said Thursday that the pier will cease operations “soon” but [[{“value”:”

WASHINGTON (AP) — Battling rough seas around Gaza, the U.S. now is considering abandoning efforts to reinstall the pier that has been used to get badly needed humanitarian aid to starving Palestinians, two U.S. officials said Thursday.

The White House and the Defense Department both said Thursday that the pier will cease operations “soon” but would not specify timing. But other U.S. officials said the Pentagon and U.S. Central Command were actively discussing an early end to pier operations because weather and some maintenance problems make it far less desirable to reconnect it for just a short time.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said there is no final decision yet — and if the weather calms for a bit there is a slim chance they could reattach it for a short time.

The initial plan earlier this week had been to reinstall the pier for a few days to move the final pallets of aid onto the shore and then permanently remove it, but rough seas have prevented the reinstallation.

Across Washington, officials were signaling the end of what has been a mission fraught with weather and security problems, but which also has successfully gotten more than 19.4 million pounds (8.6 million kilograms) aid to starving residents in Gaza as the nine-month-long war drags on.

“I do anticipate that in relatively short order we will wind down pier operations,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Washington on Thursday. ”The real issue right now is not about getting aid into Gaza. It’s about getting around Gaza effectively.”

Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, Pentagon press secretary, acknowledged in a statement that U.S. military personnel “were unable to re-anchor the pier to the shore” as planned this week, and that a date to reattach it has not been set. “The pier will soon cease operations,” he said, but provided no timeline.

Some aid still remains off shore and in Cyprus, but officials said they are looking at alternative plans to take the aid to the Israeli port at Ashdod. The port has been eyed as a likely replacement option for the movement of supplies from Cyprus to Gaza.

Despite the issues with the pier, Sullivan called the project a success.

“Look, I see any result that produces more food, more humanitarian goods, getting to the people of Gaza as a success,” Sullivan said. ”It is additive. It is something additional that otherwise we would not have gotten there when it got there. And that is a good thing.”

That total amount of aid delivered, said Ryder, “represents the largest amount of aid transported by the U.S. military over a three-month period and the largest humanitarian response in the Middle East region.”

The continuing weather problems have forced the military to temporarily remove the pier three times since it was installed in May. And the project has also been hampered by security threats that prompted aid agencies to halt distribution of the food and other supplies into Gaza. Aid had been piling up in the secure area on the beach, but the World Food Program hired contractors to move it into storage areas for further distribution in recent days.

The Pentagon insisted all along that the pier — an Army system known as the Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore, or JLOTS, capability — was only meant to be a temporary fix. Distribution of aid through land routes has long been considered the best option, but those entry points have been blocked for periods of time by Israeli forces.

Lolita C. Baldor And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press


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