Biden to announce US will build port on Gaza shore for large-scale aid delivery | Israel-Gaza war

US forces will build a temporary port on Gaza’s coastline in the coming weeks to allow for the large-scale delivery of humanitarian aid, Joe Biden will announce in the State of the Union address.

“We are not waiting for the Israelis. This is a moment for American leadership,” a senior US official said on Thursday, reflecting growing frustration over what is seen in Washington as Israeli obstruction of road transport on a substantial scale.

The port will be built by U.S. military engineers operating from ships off the coast of Gaza, which do not have to step ashore, U.S. officials said. The aid supplies will be shipped from the port of Larnaca in Cyprus, which will become the main aid hub.

“Tonight, the president will announce in his State of the Union address that he has ordered the U.S. military to conduct an emergency mission to establish a port in Gaza, working with like-minded countries and humanitarian partners,” the official said . “This port, whose main feature is a temporary pier, will provide capacity for hundreds of additional truckloads of aid every day.”

In his State of the Union address, Biden will also announce the opening of a new land crossing to the occupied and devastated coastal strip. Biden has been sharply criticized within his own party for his failure to open Gaza to humanitarian aid, while famine has threatened since the war began on October 7 and 30,000 Palestinians have been killed.

Israeli officials will be able to carry out inspections on aid shipments in Larnaca, government officials said.

“We will coordinate with the Israelis on land security requirements and work with the UN and humanitarian NGOs on aid distribution within Gaza,” a senior official said. “The first shipments will be through Cyprus, powered by the U.S. military and a coalition of partners and allies. Planning and executing this new, important capability will take several weeks. The forces that will be needed to complete this mission there are either already in the region or will be moving there soon.”

The White House said the operation would not involve any groundwork because the port and temporary pier could be built from offshore.

“The planned concept includes the presence of U.S. military personnel on military vessels offshore, but does not require U.S. military personnel to go ashore to install the pier or elevated facility that will allow transportation and humanitarian assistance on land,” it said. a high official.

Until now, the only land access routes for food aid into Gaza have been at the southern end of the Gaza Strip, at Rafah and Kerem Shalom, but the flow of aid has rarely been more than a trickle compared to the enormous needs of 2.3 million people. Palestinians. Fewer than 100 trucks pass through each day.

Looting has become one of the problems hampering deliveries, but Israeli inspections have led to many truckloads of aid being rejected if they contained anything from a long list of banned goods. There is also a lack of coordination, with aid convoys with official permission to go to northern Gaza being turned back by Israeli soldiers at checkpoints.

US officials believe Benjamin Netanyahu is balancing the various wings of his coalition – in which far-right parties oppose any aid – with a compromise that allows in only a token amount.

“The president has instructed us to look at all options, that we will not wait for the Israelis and that we will follow every possible channel to get help to Gaza. So we will do it by air, by sea, by land – either way we can get the maximum amount,” said a senior US official.

U.S. military transport planes, along with the Jordanian air force, carried out a third airdrop of food aid over Gaza in a week on Thursday, reducing the total of U.S. military rations to nearly 113,000. However, each drop of air is typically equivalent to a handful of truckloads of food, not nearly enough to meet the needs of a population on the brink of starvation.

“To prevent a famine we need enormous amounts of aid. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of people. Airdrops are not an option to prevent famine,” said World Food Program Deputy Executive Director Carl Skau, calling for the opening of a maritime corridor.

The White House said Israel has also agreed to open a third road crossing into Gaza, providing more direct access to northern Gaza, where the threat of famine is most imminent.

“In recent days, at our request, the Israeli government has prepared a new land border crossing directly into northern Gaza. This third crossing will allow aid to flow directly to the people in northern Gaza who are in urgent need of assistance,” a government official said.

James McGoldrick, the UN’s interim humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, confirmed Thursday that the Israeli military has “given the green light” to the use of a military road leading from east to north Gaza.

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