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Troubled US military dock near Gaza to be permanently removed as early as next week, US officials say

Troubled US military dock near Gaza to be permanently removed as early as next week, US officials say
Troubled US military dock near Gaza to be permanently removed as early as next week, US officials say



The U.S. military dock off Gaza is expected to be permanently withdrawn as early as next week, four U.S. officials said, after it is reconnected once again to deliver remaining humanitarian aid to Cyprus and the floating dock several miles offshore.

The $230 million temporary dock, which has been plagued by problems since its creation, has been sitting in the Israeli port of Ashdod for nearly two weeks after the Pentagon decided that sea conditions were too rough for it to operate. Last month was the third time the dock had been disconnected from Gaza due to bad weather.

Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said at a news conference Tuesday that the plan was to temporarily reconnect the dock later this week, allowing additional aid to flow into Gaza. Officials said the dock could be reconnected for the final time as early as Wednesday.

But once the remaining aid is delivered, the dock is expected to be removed from the Gaza coast and the operation, which began in mid-May, will end, officials said. Since the dock began operations, more than 19.4 million pounds of humanitarian aid has been delivered through the dock to the Gaza collection area.

Its withdrawal will mark the end of a long-awaited but deeply troubled operation to deliver humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. The United States began building the floating pier in late April with the help of about 1,000 American soldiers and sailors. U.S. officials have stressed that the pier was meant to be a temporary measure to supplement land routes connecting Israel and Egypt to Gaza, which are often closed or blocked due to intensive Israeli inspections.

The Associated Press was first to report the plan to permanently remove the pier.

Officials had planned for the U.S. military to operate the dock for about three months after it became operational in mid-May, but severe sea storms have regularly disrupted the dock's operations, and distributing aid once it reaches Gaza has proven difficult and dangerous for aid workers.

Aid delivered to Gaza via the pier piled up on the beach for several weeks last month as the World Food Programme assessed whether it was safe to distribute it inside the enclave. The Israel Defense Forces had agreed from the start to provide a wide security perimeter around the pier system and the aid operation, but an Israeli hostage rescue operation very close to the pier in early June raised additional security concerns for aid workers.

Aid distribution resumed late last month after millions of pounds of aid, or about 6,000 pallets, piled up on the Gaza coast, CNN previously reported.

The Pentagon and USAID inspectors general have launched coordinated reviews of the pier's operation, they announced last month. The review comes as some Republicans in Congress have criticized the troubled pier, calling it a waste of taxpayer money that defies logic.




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