The U.S. has dispatched eight Army and Navy vessels from Virginia to build a temporary pier off the coast of the Gaza Strip. The aim of this work: to supply food and other necessary items for Palestinians as the war between Israel and Hamas continues and the resulting humanitarian crisis worsens.

Even before Oct. 7, 2023, and the massacre by Hamas of Israeli citizens that sparked the war, about 80% of Palestinians in Gaza relied on foreign humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs, including food. Now, the United Nations is warning that half of Palestinians in Gaza face famine within the next few months.

The new pier, which is expected to be operational sometime in May 2024, could help deliver 2 million meals a day to Gaza’s estimated 2.2 million residents.

A complex set of factors, including limited entryways into Gaza, Israeli restrictions on what enters Gaza, poor road conditions and security concerns, have resulted in aid groups being unable to deliver sufficient amounts of food to people in Gaza. Israel says it is not directly obstructing aid deliveries, but some critics – including South Africa, which is bringing a genocide case against Israel before the International Court of Justice – disagree.

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