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TIMELINE - US establishes Gaza pier to try to boost aid to hungry enclave

May 16, 2024 at 9:26 pm

United States Navy ships anchor off the coast of Gaza to operate for floating pier project in Gaza on May 16, 2024. [Ashraf Amra – Anadolu Agency]

The United States anchored a temporary floating pier to a beach in Gaza on Thursday to boost aid deliveries. US President, Joe Biden, announced the plan for the pier in March as aid officials implored Israel to improve access for relief supplies into Gaza over land routes.

By opening a route to deliver aid by sea, the US hopes to combat the humanitarian crisis that has put hundreds of thousands of people at risk of famine. Below is a timeline of events leading to the arrival of the pier off Gaza.

7 March – Biden says in his State of the Union speech the US military will build a temporary port on Gaza’s Mediterranean coast to receive humanitarian aid by sea. The announcement came as he seeks to cool anger among many in his Democratic Party over his support for Israel in its offensive in Gaza since 7 October, given the steep toll on civilians.

8 March – The Pentagon says Biden’s plan could take up to 60 days to become a reality and involve more than 1,000 American troops. Officials say a floating pier would be installed in place off Gaza and attached to land by a temporary causeway. Aid will be shipped to it from Cyprus where Israeli officials will inspect it, as they currently do at the land borders, to stop anything going into Gaza that they deem to have a possible military use.

READ: Vessel carrying aid to US-built pier off Gaza leaves Cyprus

3 April – The US State Department says an attack that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers on 1 April would not affect US efforts to build the pier.

25 April – A United Nations team in Gaza visiting the site for the pier and the staging area for maritime aid operations had to seek shelter in a bunker “for some time” after the area came under fire, a UN spokesperson says.

25 April – The Pentagon says US troops have begun construction of the pier off the coast of Gaza, as international officials warn of the risk of famine in northern Gaza. Concerns about the risk to American troops getting caught up in the Israel-Hamas war were underscored as news emerged of a mortar attack near the area where the pier will eventually touch ground. No US forces were present, however, and Biden has ordered US forces to not step foot on the Gaza shore.

29 April – A US defence official says cost estimate to build the pier has risen to $320 million, illustrating the massive scale of the construction effort.

1 May – The Pentagon says the US military has so far constructed over 50 per cent of the pier, which has several different components. “The floating pier has been completely constructed and set up. The causeway is in progress,” a spokesperson said.

2 May – White House says the pier should be open within a matter of days, despite poor weather hampering preparations.

3 May – The US military said it was temporarily pausing the offshore construction of the pier because of weather conditions and, instead, would continue building it at the Israeli port of Ashdod.

9 May – The US flagged vessel, “Sagamore” carrying aid to be unloaded at the pier sets sail from the port of Larnaca, Cyprus in the morning.

15 May – A British shipment of nearly 100 tonnes of aid has left Cyprus bound for the temporary pier, the British Foreign Office says.

15 May – The US military starts moving the pier towards the Gaza coast, a US official says.

16 May – The pier is anchored to a beach in Gaza.

READ: US military’s pier in Gaza to cost $320m

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