U.S. military personnel construct a floating pier in the Mediterranean Sea off the Gaza Strip in April 2024.

U.S. military personnel construct a floating pier in the Mediterranean Sea off the Gaza Strip in April 2024. (U.S. Army Central Command)

The U.S. military has begun moving parts of a floating temporary pier toward Gaza to help deliver more humanitarian aid to the war-torn territory, a defense official said Wednesday.

The pier, which troops finished assembling last week, has been staged at the Israeli port of Ashdod, about 20 miles north of Gaza.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the top Pentagon spokesman, told reporters Tuesday that the pier would be ready to use “in the coming days.”

However, U.S. officials said the pier is moving now into the waters off Gaza, and they expect the docking system to be installed in the next 24 hours, according to an NBC News report. Once it is ready, the delivery of food and other aid could begin in the first 24 to 48 hours after installation.

Hundreds of tons of needed aid is waiting on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus and thousands more will follow for distribution to Gaza once the pier is ready, senior U.S. officials said Wednesday.

“We expect this flow to continue as more international donors contribute,” said Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East.

The aid will be inspected and placed on pallets before leaving Cyprus on military or commercial ships for delivery to the Joint-Logistics Over-the-Shore, or JLOTS, floating pier several miles off the Gaza shore. From the pier, it will be loaded onto trucks and transported on smaller U.S. military ships capable of near-shore operations to an 1,800-foot-long causeway. Each vessel would be capable of carrying five to 15 truckloads of aid, Cooper said.

The trucks would roll down the causeway onto land, he said. Non-U.S. civilian contractors would drive the trucks, Ryder said last week.

After the aid is delivered on shore, “the United Nations and World Food Program will receive the aid for onward distribution into Gaza,” Cooper said.

The U.S. military had been waiting until weather conditions in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea improved before pushing the pier onto the beach in northern Gaza, officials said.

In the last several weeks, U.S. and Israeli officials have developed an integrated security plan designed to protect personnel working at the JLOTS project and surrounding shore area, Cooper said.

“We are confident in this security arrangement to protect all those involved,” he said, adding the plan was comprehensive but did not offer details.

Once in Gaza, humanitarian organizations would determine “who gets assistance, who is prioritized … and what that assistance is,” said Dan Dieckhaus, director of response for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Those organizations have several processes in place to ensure the aid won’t be destroyed or stolen, he said.

“We would not deny that there is heightened risk in Gaza for a variety of reasons,” Dieckhaus said. “But we have not received substantial reports of widespread diversion of our own assistance.”

author picture
Matthew Adams covers the Defense Department at the Pentagon. His past reporting experience includes covering politics for The Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle and The News and Observer. He is based in Washington, D.C.
author picture
Alison Bath reports on the U.S. Navy, including U.S. 6th Fleet, in Europe and Africa. She has reported for a variety of publications in Montana, Nevada and Louisiana, and served as editor of newspapers in Louisiana, Oregon and Washington.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now