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Pentagon says Israel hostage operation did not involve Gaza pier

June 10, 2024 at 7:31 pm

A view of the damaged floating pier, set up by US to facilitate quicker delivery of humanitarian aid to Palestinians, after it has been suspended due to adverse weather conditions and rising sea levels in Gaza City, Gaza on May 27, 2024 [Dawoud Abo Alkas – Anadolu Agency]

The Pentagon, on Monday, sought to dispel what it said were false perceptions on social media that Israel staged part of its hostage rescue operations on the US military’s floating pier off Gaza, saying that was not true and no US personnel were involved, Reuters reports.

Still, Pentagon spokesperson, Major-General Patrick Ryder, acknowledged there were Israeli helicopter operations “near” the pier, which was announced by US President Joe Biden as a way to bring desperately needed humanitarian aid to Palestinians.

“It was near but I think it’s incidental. Again, the pier, the equipment, the personnel all supporting that humanitarian effort had nothing to do with the IDF rescue operation,” Ryder said, referring to the Israel Defence Forces.

In a raid in Gaza on Saturday, Israeli forces rescued four hostages held by Hamas since October. In Saturday’s operation, 274 Palestinians were killed, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

Ryder said the US military was trying to “push back on some of the inaccurate social media allegations” circulating about the pier.

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“The humanitarian pier facility, including its equipment, personnel and assets, were not used in the IDF’s operation to rescue hostages in Gaza. And any such claim to the contrary is false. The US military’s pier operations resumed briefly on Saturday after nearly two weeks offline but have been halted against since Sunday due to bad weather. On Saturday, 492 metric tons of aid were delivered from the pier, the US military’s Central Command said.

The Israel-Palestine war has now entered its ninth month, since Hamas-led fighters killed 1,200 people and took some 250 others hostage in a rampage through southern Israel, according to Israeli tallies. Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip has killed more than 37,000 Palestinians and reduced most of the enclave to wasteland, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

Any perception that the pier could be used by Israel militarily could undermine US efforts to increase the flow of aid to Palestinians and potentially increase the threat to US troops.

Ryder acknowledged misinformation and disinformation about what US troops were doing in the Middle East. But he dismissed the idea that the current misperceptions that the pier was used by Israel increased the threat to US forces, who have air defences installed to shield them from possible rocket attack.

“No, I don’t think it puts our forces at greater risk,” he said, without explaining how he came to that conclusion.

READ: UN food organisation pauses deliveries to Gaza via US-built temporary pier amid safety concerns