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An American soldier seriously injured during the operation on the Gaza pier, 2 other soldiers injured

An American soldier seriously injured during the operation on the Gaza pier, 2 other soldiers injured


A truck carrying humanitarian aid drives down the ramp of the MV Benavides to the platform of the Rolling Unloading Facility (RRDF) about three kilometers off the coast of Gaza, May 17, 2024. Photo by the US Navy

A U.S. soldier assigned to the Gaza pier mission was seriously injured Thursday and medically evacuated to Israel, two defense officials confirmed to USNI News.

The soldier was working at the transit platform three kilometers off the Gaza coast, where trucks full of aid packages are taken from cargo ships to army boats, officials said of Defense at USNI News. At the time of the injury, the roll-on roll-off cargo ship MV Benevides was attached to the platform.

Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, told reporters Thursday that a total of three service members were injured in non-combat incidents at sea.

Three injured people, two of whom were very minor, returned to duty. One person is being treated at a local Israeli hospital, Cooper told reporters during a briefing Thursday at the Pentagon.

Officials did not mention any attacks or incidents directly targeting the pier or staging area two miles from the coast.

The pier has been in operation since last week, providing aid to Gaza. The trucks are loaded in Cyprus and sail to the transit area off the coast. From there, the trucks head to US military boats and sail to the pier anchored on Gaza beach. After arrival, humanitarian supplies are processed in a triage area before being transported to different warehouses and distribution points.

Over the past few days, we have delivered more than a million pounds of aid to the Palestinians. We can all feel good about that, Cooper said.

Announced three months ago during President Joe Biden's annual State of the Union address, Army watercraft and Navy transport ships departed in March for the Mediterranean on a joint logistics mission (JLOTS) aimed at helping Palestinians in the war-torn Gaza Strip. This effort includes the U.S. Army's 7th Transportation Brigade and the U.S. Navy's Naval Beach Group One.

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), U.S. Navy Sailors assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion 1 and the Israel Defense Forces set up the Trident Pier on the Gaza coast, May 16 2024. The temporary jetty, part of the Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore capability, will enable the maritime delivery of international humanitarian aid to the United Nations in Gaza for distribution to the Palestinian people in need.

Cooper and a U.S. Agency for International Development official summarized the first week of humanitarian operations on the dock for Pentagon reporters.

The maritime corridor is a complex, multi-step process through which aid is channeled to humanitarian organizations ready to facilitate its distribution to Palestinian communities across Gaza in an independent, neutral and impartial manner, said Daniel Dieckhaus, director of the team. management of USAID's response to the Levant.

Cooper stressed that there were no U.S. personnel on the ground during the ground distribution in Gaza, stating that aid workers were solely responsible for those phases of the process.

Of the 820 tonnes of aid delivered to Gaza since Friday, 506 tonnes were distributed by the United Nations. However, Dieckhaus stressed that the multinational humanitarian maritime corridor does not replace land crossings and is not intended to do so. According to Dieckhaus, of the 70 aid trucks delivered to Gaza on Wednesday, 23 came from the dock.

I just want to be clear that this humanitarian maritime corridor alone is not enough to meet Gaza's enormous needs, but it is an important addition. It is intended to augment, not replace, land crossings into Gaza, Dieckhaus said.

Both officials also pushed back against reports that aid trucks had been looted after leaving the coastal distribution area, with Dieckhaus saying such incidents represented only a minority of overall shipments. According to Cooper, of the 54 trucks sent from the humanitarian maritime corridor over the past two days, only one had an incident.

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) use a rope to stabilize humanitarian aid as it is lifted by a crane aboard the MV Roy P. Benavidez to support Operation Joint Logistics Over-the-shore (JLOTS), in the Port of Ashdod, Israel, May 13, 2024. US Navy photo

Given its location in an active war zone, Cooper and Dieckhaus highlighted the challenges of the operation.

For example, Cooper said a Hamas drone attack on the Israeli Defense Forces just a few miles from the pier temporarily suspended all humanitarian activities, but did not specify for how long. Although this attack did not directly hit or target U.S. forces or the pier, it delayed humanitarian convoys.

U.S. forces dedicated about 1,000 personnel and 16 ships to the operation, including deploying at least one counter-rocket, artillery and mortar system on the pier itself. Although Cooper would not comment on the protection deployed by U.S. forces, he said the deployment of these systems was prudent planning.

The Israel Defense Forces are the primary security providers for the operation and have dedicated a brigade of troops and various air and naval assets. Two U.S. Navy destroyers will help protect the pier, reported.

USNI News Writer Sam LaGrone contributed to this report.





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