First aid from US pier in Gaza has reached starving Palestinians, the UN says

WASHINGTON — The UN World Food Program said on Wednesday it had distributed in Gaza in recent days a “limited number” of high-energy biscuits that arrived from a US-built pier, bringing the first aid to the new humanitarian sea route. of Palestinians in serious need.

The small number of cookies came in the first shipment unloaded from the pier on Friday, WFP spokesman Steve Taravella said. The U.S. Agency for International Development told The Associated Press that a total of 41 trucks loaded with aid from the more than $320 million pier reached humanitarian organizations in Gaza.

“Aid is flowing” from the pier, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Wednesday in response to questions about the maritime project’s troubled launch of aid deliveries. “It’s not flowing at a pace that we’re all happy with.”

Pentagon spokesman Major General Patrick Ryder told reporters on Tuesday that he did not believe aid from the pier had yet reached people in Gaza. Sullivan said a day later that some assistance had been provided “specifically to the Palestinians who need it.”

US officials hope that at maximum capacity the pier can bring the equivalent of 150 truckloads of aid to Gaza every day. That’s a fraction of the 600 truckloads of food, emergency nutritional treatment and other supplies that USAID says are needed every day to bring people in Gaza back from the onset of famine and to address the humanitarian crisis caused by the sifting months old Israel. Hamas war.

Israeli restrictions on land crossings and a wave of fighting have reduced supplies of food and fuel in Gaza to their lowest levels since the early months of the war, international officials say. Israel’s takeover this month of the Rafah crossing, a key transit point for fuel and supplies for Gaza, has contributed to the near collapse of aid operations, the UN and aid agencies say.

Aid groups say all 2.3 million people in Gaza are struggling to get food, with the heads of the WFP and USAID saying a famine has begun in northern Gaza.

The US pier project to bring aid to Gaza via the Mediterranean Sea had a rocky launch, with groups of people overwhelming a convoy on Saturday and taking most of the supplies, and a man in the crowd shot dead under still unexplained circumstances.

Saturday’s chaos forced aid convoys to be suspended from the pier for two days. Shada Moghraby, WFP’s spokesperson at the UN, said trucks carrying aid from the pier arrived at a UN warehouse on Tuesday and Wednesday, but it was not clear how many.

The WFP had warned this week that the US project could fail unless Israeli authorities gave permission and cooperated for alternative land routes and better security.

Humanitarian and US officials say the sea route is no substitute for bringing aid through land crossings, and they have repeatedly called on Israel to allow a steady large flow of trucks through entry points and ensure aid workers are safe from the Israeli army.

Israel insists it is not imposing restrictions on the number of trucks entering Gaza and blames aid groups for “a lack of logistical capabilities and manpower shortages.” But Israel’s military operations make it very difficult for groups to retrieve aid.


AP writer Edith M. Lederer contributed from the United Nations.