Aid starts entering Gaza through US-built pier, but officials say it isn’t enough

Trucks carrying aid delivered into Gaza via a U.S.-built pier move, as seen from central Gaza Strip, in this still image taken from a video, on May 17, 2024. REUTERS/Reuters TV

Trucks of humanitarian aid began moving ashore into the Gaza Strip early Friday via a temporary pier built by the U.S. military, the first supplies of aid to be sent into the enclave by sea in two months. But the new shipments of food and other supplies fall far short of what humanitarian groups say is needed to meet the staggering levels of hunger and deprivation in Gaza.

A day earlier, the U.S. military said it had anchored the floating pier and causeway to the beach in Gaza, a key step in completing a maritime corridor that the Pentagon announced in March. U.S. officials and international aid groups have said sea shipments can only supplement deliveries through land crossings, not replace them.


No U.S. troops entered Gaza on Friday, the U.S. military said, emphasizing that it was providing only logistical support for delivery of the supplies, which were donated by a number of countries and organizations.

The war-torn territory of 2.2 million civilians is more reliant than ever on humanitarian aid.

The devastation after seven months of Israeli bombardment, strict Israeli inspections and restrictions on crossing points had already severely limited what could enter. And over the past week and a half, since Israel began a military assault around the city of Rafah, the flow of supplies through the main land crossings in southern Gaza had been reduced to a trickle.

Aid agencies continued to report increasingly dire conditions in Gaza. Janti Soeripto, president and CEO of Save the Children U.S., told The New York Times on Friday, “We have never ever seen anything like this anywhere in the planet.”

Israel has come under pressure from the Biden administration and other allies to do more to ease the entry of aid, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken warning this week that recent improvements in relief delivery were being undercut by fighting in and around Rafah.

More than 630,000 Gaza civilians have fled Rafah since Israel began its military offensive there May 6, according to the main U.N. agency that aids Palestinians. Many have been displaced to the central city of Deir al Balah, which the U.N. agency, known as UNRWA, said on social media was now “unbearably overcrowded with dire conditions.”

This week, top diplomats of 13 countries — including every member of the Group of 7 industrialized democracies except the United States — said in a joint letter, a copy of which was seen by the Times, that Israel must take “urgent action” to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The letter, addressed to Israel’s foreign minister, calls on Israeli authorities to expand the amount of aid entering the territory, take “concrete action” to protect civilians and work toward a “sustainable cease-fire.”

On Friday, at a hearing at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, lawyers representing Israel defended the military operation in Rafah as “limited and localized,” arguing that the judges should not seek to restrict Israel’s actions in Gaza.

The hearings at the court, the U.N.’s highest judicial body, are part of a case filed by South Africa in December that accuses Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

In late January, the court ordered Israel to do more to prevent acts of genocide, but it is not expected to hear the main case over whether genocide is being committed until next year.

Last week, South Africa asked the judges to issue an emergency order aiming to prevent wide-scale civilian harm in Rafah. Lawyers for South Africa argued at the court Thursday that Israel’s Rafah operation was “the last step in the destruction of Gaza and its Palestinian people.”

On Friday, Gilad Noam, Israel’s deputy attorney general for international law, repeated Israel’s fierce rejection that it was committing genocide in Gaza. He said Israeli authorities were working to facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid and to protect civilians amid fierce combat across the enclave, including in Rafah.

“Israel is taking steps to try and contend with the massive complexity that such a situation presents,” Noam told the judges.

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