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US defense official confirms Gaza pier is bringing aid ashore

The U.S. military-built pier in Gaza was unloading humanitarian aid again Thursday after being removed for a second time last week because of rough seas, a U.S. defense official said.

The pier was reattached to Gaza’s shoreline on Wednesday, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss U.S. military operations.

The pier, which cost the U.S. at least $230 million, was meant to deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza via the U.N.’s World Food Program. It has faced a number of setbacks, operating for only about a week before getting blown apart by high winds in May. The U.S. military detached the floating causeway and moved it to an Israeli port last week so it wouldn’t break apart again.

The United Nations says it is still assessing whether it’s safe for staff to participate in delivering humanitarian aid from the U.S.-built pier, which means no aid is being transported from the beach to U.N. warehouses.

There is currently no timeline for completing the assessment, U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters Thursday. If the U.N. Department of Safety and Security decides the U.N. can resume operations, “then the World Food Program stands ready to do so based on its core principles.”

These core principles — U.N. neutrality and independence in humanitarian activities — were called into question during Israel’s June 8 hostage rescue. An Israeli helicopter touched down near the U.S.-built pier and helped whisk away the hostages and an injured Israeli commando, according to the U.S. and Israeli militaries.

Both forces deny the pier was used, saying the helicopter landed an unspecified distance south of the causeway.

The U.N. also hasn’t been able to deliver aid using a new route in southern Gaza the Israeli military said it would secure during “tactical pauses,” Haq said.

Fighting may have decreased on the route from the Kerem Shalom crossing to Gaza’s main north-south Salah al-Din road, he said, but there are other impediments and “the lack of public order and safety is a major obstacle and requires concerted efforts and concrete measures to find a solution.”

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