Biden to announce ’emergency’ US military mission to build pier off Gaza coast to deliver aid

It will receive “large ships carrying food, water and medicine,” an official said.

During his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden will announce an “emergency” military mission to build a port in the Mediterranean Sea on the coast of Gaza to bring in humanitarian aid, senior officials said Thursday.

The port will be able to receive “large ships carrying food, water, medicine and temporary shelter,” a senior White House official said. A senior defense official said the port’s main feature will be a temporary pier that will “provide the capacity for hundreds of additional truckloads of aid every day.”

The effort will be undertaken by the US and partner nations, a senior defense official said, and will take “several weeks to plan and implement.” The official said the troops needed to complete the mission are already in the region or will go there soon.

The senior defense official said the operation would not require U.S. troops on the ground. Later, the senior White House official said the U.S. military has “unique capabilities” and can “do things from just offshore that are extraordinary.”

The first aid shipments will arrive via the port via Cyprus, the defense official said.

That official told reporters that the US continues to push Israel to allow more overland aid to Gaza, saying it is the “most efficient, cost-effective” option.

“But we have decided that we, and the president has instructed us, must look at all options, that we should not wait for the Israelis and that we should follow every possible channel to get aid to Gaza,” the official said.

The defense official insisted that a temporary ceasefire is the best way to get help.

The senior White House official said: “There is no hard and fast deadline for these negotiations” when asked if a deal could be reached before Ramadan.

“But of course we recognize that extremists could try to use Ramadan to incite something that would be very unfortunate in that holy month, and we want to make sure that we have a peaceful period so that people can worship. the Israelis with the Palestinian Authority, with the Jordanians and others,” the White House official said.

A senior defense official said the US has provided more than $180 million in aid to Gaza since the war began on October 7.

“But the truth is that we know that the aid flowing into Gaza is not nearly enough and not nearly fast enough,” the defense official said. “The president will make it clear again tonight that we all need to do more and the United States is doing more, and we are trying to use every channel possible to get additional aid to Gaza.”

The defense official said Israel has been working in recent days to establish a third border crossing into Gaza, which would allow “aid to flow directly to the population in northern Gaza who are in urgent need of assistance.” The US expects the first delivery through this passage to take place in the coming week, the official added.

The Pentagon official also said the US dropped aid supplies into Gaza for the third time on Thursday morning. The three drops include 192 bundles totaling nearly 113,000 meals, the official added.

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