Pentagon: Looting Halts Distribution of 596 Tons of Aid to Gazans

By Yoni Weiss

An overview of the new pier off Gaza and aid trucks, on May 18. (Satellite image ©2024 Maxar Technologies via AP)

A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday that none of the 596 tons of humanitarian aid that has reached Gaza through a U.S.-built offshore pier has been delivered to Palestinians. Convoys of trucks carrying food, water, and other assistance were temporarily suspended after Palestinians looted the trucks.

When asked during a press briefing if aid had been formally distributed to Gaza residents, Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder responded, “As of today? I do not believe so.”

Ships carrying trucks loaded with food, water, medicine, fuel, and other supplies from Cyprus began arriving at the offshore pier on Friday and drove to the mainland via a causeway. The aid was offloaded at a staging area near Gaza City before being transferred to distribution sites around Gaza.

However, many of the trucks were looted while transferring the aid from the staging area to other distribution sites. During one of these hijackings, a Palestinian was killed by gunfire. Ryder confirmed that the convoys resumed after being suspended for two days.

It is unclear if the looters were acting on behalf of Hamas. Prior to Israel seizing control of Gaza’s Rafah border crossing with Egypt, the group had commandeered trucks delivering food, water, medical supplies, and other assistance.

Egypt refuses to coordinate aid deliveries in protest against Israeli military operations in Rafah and has closed the crossing. According to U.N. official Edem Wosurnu, at least 82,000 metric tons of aid have accumulated on the Egyptian side of the crossing.

Israel is helping secure the pier but is not involved in protecting the convoys leaving the staging area.

Ryder said the U.S., Israel, and the U.N. are discussing ways “to identify alternative routes for the safe movement of staff and cargo.”

As the $320 million pier becomes fully operational, the number of trucks passing through is expected to reach 150 daily.

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