WASHINGTON, May 15 — A pier built by the US military for Gaza aid deliveries will be operational “in the coming days,” the Pentagon said yesterday, after a week of bad weather delayed its installation.

With a cost of at least US$320 million (RM1.5 billion), the pier is aimed at boosting humanitarian access to Gaza, which has been ravaged by seven months of war between Israel and Hamas.

But poor sea conditions have made it unsafe to anchor the pier on the Gaza coast, and it was instead stowed at the port of Ashdod in Israel as construction was completed last week.

Asked when the pier would be installed, Pentagon spokesman Major General Pat Ryder told reporters “in the coming days, I think you can expect to see it operational,” but declined to give a specific date.

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Ryder added that there were US Navy destroyers in the region that could provide security assistance for the aid operation.

The Pentagon has previously said that Israeli soldiers will anchor the pier to the Gaza shore, keeping US troops off the ground.

Plans for the pier were first announced by President Joe Biden in early March as Israel held up deliveries of aid by ground, worsening the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza.

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Under the plans, supplies will be transported out of Cyprus on commercial vessels to a floating platform also built by the US military off the Gaza coast.

Aid will then be transferred to smaller vessels and brought to the pier on the Gaza coast and taken to land by truck for distribution.

Ryder said the United States and humanitarian groups were “pre-positioning aid in Cyprus to be loaded onto vessels for transport to the floating pier.”

He said the United States wanted to see aid delivered into Gaza at an “increased rate,” adding it was working to open the Rafah border crossing between Israel and Egypt, which has been blocked since last week.

Gaza has been devastated by the war which began on October 7 when Hamas carried out an attack in southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of about 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel vowed to destroy Hamas and has conducted a retaliatory offensive that has killed at least 35,173 people, mostly civilians, according to the Gaza health ministry. — AFP