US troops on Thursday anchored a long-awaited temporary pier, aimed to boost aid deliveries into war-ravaged Gaza, to a beach in the besieged Palestinian territory, the US military and Israel said.

The US Central Command said the pier was “successfully affixed to the beach in Gaza” at around 7:40 am (0440 GMT), with around 500 tonnes of aid expected to enter the Palestinian territory in the coming days.

Built at a cost of at least $320 million, the project is extraordinary in that such massive humanitarian efforts by the United States are usually in response to actions by hostile countries, not a US ally.

The humanitarian assistance is being screened in Cyprus and loaded by truck.

The UN has argued that opening up land crossing points and allowing more aid trucks into Gaza is the only way to stem the spiraling humanitarian crisis.

But the primary crossing into Gaza, on the territory’s border with Egypt, has been closed for days after Israel seized it from Hamas last week.

Israeli troops took over the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing as the military threatened a wider assault on the southern city. The Israelis defied warnings from the United States and others over the fate of some 1.4 million civilians who had been sheltering there.

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Cyprus, the Mediterranean island nation that is the departure point for aid on the planned maritime corridor, said US ship James A. Loux left Wednesday, carrying relief supplies and “technical equipment for the unloading and transportation of the aid to the jetty”.

Government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said that “new departures are expected, transporting humanitarian aid including food items, medical supplies, hygiene and temporary shelter”.

Britain, meanwhile, said its contribution of an initial nearly 100 tonnes of “shelter coverage kits” figured in the first shipment.

The pier will begin with facilitating the delivery of around 90 truckloads of international aid into Gaza each day, before volumes are scaled up to 150 truckloads daily, a British statement said late Wednesday, without providing a clear timeline.

The maritime corridor was “not a replacement for aid being delivered through land routes, which remain the quickest and most effective way of getting much-needed aid into Gaza”, the statement said.

“We know that more is required, particularly via land,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in the statement.

With AFP