US ships sail to build a temporary port in Gaza

The initiative is part of the US efforts to increase assistance to civilians in the besieged Palestinian territory.

Four US military ships with around 100 soldiers on board departed on Tuesday towards the coast of the Gaza Strip, carrying materials to build a temporary port to distribute more humanitarian aid.

The initiative is part of the US efforts to increase assistance to civilians in the besieged Palestinian territory, where aid deliveries by trucks have been reduced amid intense Israeli military operations, leading to a severe shortage of food, water, and medicine.

The main ship of the mission, a massive gray logistical support vessel, sailed away from the military base in Virginia playing the Imperial March from the Star Wars science fiction movie through its speakers.

It was followed by three smaller ships that will also make the nearly 30-day journey to the eastern Mediterranean.

The new facilities involve a platform at sea to transfer humanitarian cargo from large ships to smaller ones, and a dock to unload aid on land. The project is expected to be operational “within 60 days,” said Brigadier General Brad Hinson to reporters.

“Once the mission is fully operational with all its capabilities, we can bring up to two million food rations per day to the shore,” he assured.

US authorities stated that the mission does not involve deploying “troops on the ground,” although the military will approach the coastal territory during the construction of the dock, which must be anchored to the shore.

Hinson did not disclose security details or what assistance will be available for the anchorage.The current conflict erupted over five months ago with an attack by terrorists from the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas on Israeli soil, resulting in about 1,160 deaths, mostly civilians, according to a count by the AFP agency based on Israeli data.

In response, Israel launched a retaliatory military campaign that has so far left 31,112 dead in Gaza alone, according to data from Hamas terrorists who govern the Palestinian enclave.

To try to alleviate the humanitarian crisis, a first ship chartered by the Spanish NGO Open Arms and loaded with 200 tons of supplies set sail on Tuesday from Cyprus to Gaza, through a maritime corridor announced by the European Union (EU).

The United States and other countries have also made air drops of water and food packages. US Department of Defense spokesman Pat Ryder detailed that on Tuesday, along with the Royal Jordanian Air Force, US forces distributed about 5,280 pounds (about 2,400 kilograms) of food, including flour, rice, pasta, and canned food.

However, aid shipments by sea or air cannot replace supplies by land, insist the UN and various NGOs.

On Monday, the State Department highlighted that although the government of Benjamin Netanyahu has taken steps to allow the entry of humanitarian aid, it has not done enough, and therefore urged him to do more.

The United Nations estimates that a quarter of the population in the Gaza Strip is at risk of dying from hunger due to the humanitarian catastrophe unleashed by the Israeli offensive.

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