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Pentagon working on alternate route for Gaza aid

WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — The Department of Defense said Tuesday that it is working on a Plan B to get humanitarian aid into Gaza after supplies bound for the besieged enclave — through a U.S.-built pier — were intercepted this weekend.

“There have been discussions between the U.S, Israel, United Nations, as well as joint efforts to identify alternative routes for the safe movement of staff and cargo,” Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters.

Asked if any of the 569 metric tons of aid that have been delivered to the pier has reached the Palestinian people, Ryder responded: “As of today, I do not believe so.”

In March, President Joe Biden directed the U.S. military to install a floating pier, which is expected to cost $320 million, to ferry food, water and makeshift shelters to the dock on the Gaza coast, and then driven into the war-ravaged territory by non-U.S. contractors. The United Nations World Food Program will facilitate the flow of aid once it leaves the pier. Biden said no American boots will be on the ground during the operation.

Despite setbacks due to bad weather, the temporary pier anchored to the Gaza shoreline at about 7:40 a.m. local time Thursday, according to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). Trucks carrying humanitarian assistance were expected to begin moving ashore “in the coming days,” CENTCOM said in a statement.

The United Nations warned that famine is “imminent” in northern Gaza as 1.1 million people — half of the population — are experiencing “catastrophic” levels of hunger.

While U.S. officials said that the expectation is to bring between 90 to 150 trucks filled with aid into Gaza daily, logistics remain a challenge.

“Some of that initial aid that was brought in, as it was being taken along a transportation route, was intercepted by some people, who, you know, took that aid off those vehicles,” Ryder said. “Fully appreciating the desperation, but also fully appreciating the fact that it is very important that this aid get to the people who need it most. That’s going to continue to be the focus. So I understand, you know, the focus on why is this not working, why is that not working, or why is that not working, but what we’re focused on is how we can work to ensure that the Palestinian people get the aid.”

A United Nations spokesperson tells NewsNation that in the past seven months of war in Gaza, this type of interception is not an isolated incident and has previously happened with various shipments of supplies.

“Many of these people risk their lives based on the fact that they don’t know whether or not they will see another truck in the near future,” said Shaza Moghraby, a World Food Program spokesperson in New York, noting that once deliveries become more consistent, these types of risks should be minimized.

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