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UN halts food distribution from US-built Gaza pier due to security concerns

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The United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) is temporarily pausing its food distribution operations from a U.S.-built pier in Gaza after its warehouses were hit by rockets, representing the latest blow to efforts to get humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip from the pier.

The U.S. has spent some $320 million building the pier in the Mediterranean Sea to facilitate the delivery of aid into Gaza. But there have been chaotic scenes of hundreds of Palestinians looting aid convoys, and the structure has been battered by choppy weather.

Aid arrived at the pier on Saturday with about 492 metric tons being delivered, according to U.S. Central Command.

BEFORE AND AFTER: PHOTOS SHOW DESTRUCTION OF BIDEN’S $320M GAZA PIER

This image shows the Trident Pier in the Gaza Strip on May 16, 2024. (U.S. Central Command via AP)

“To date, USCENTCOM has assisted in the delivery of more than 1,573 metric tons (~3.5 million pounds) of humanitarian aid. No U.S. military personnel went ashore in Gaza,” the agency said in a statement. “This ongoing effort in support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to deliver additional aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza is entirely humanitarian in nature and involves aid commodities donated by several countries and humanitarian organizations.”

But on Sunday, Cindy McCain, WFP’s executive director, said the U.N. program was halting distribution due to safety concerns.

“Right now, we’re paused because I’m concerned about the safety of our people after the incidents yesterday,” she said on CBS News.

United-States-Gaza-Aid

The image provided by U.S, Central Command, shows U.S. Army soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), U.S. Navy sailors assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, and Israel Defense Forces placing the Trident Pier on the coast of Gaza Strip on Thursday, May 16, 2024. The temporary pier is part of the Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore capability. The U.S. military finished installing the floating pier on Thursday, with officials poised to begin ferrying badly needed humanitarian aid into the enclave besieged over seven months of intense fighting in the Israel-Hamas war.  (U.S. Central Command via AP)

McCain said that two warehouses were rocketed on Saturday, “[S]o we’ve stepped back just for the moment to make sure that we’re in – on safe terms and on safe ground before we’ll restart.”

She said operations elsewhere are ongoing.

“Temporarily pausing operations at floating dock for a UN security assessment to ensure staff & partners’ safety,” the WFP said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

GROWING CONTROVERSY OVER BIDEN’S GAZA PIER FUELS CONCERNS OVER COST, SECURITY

The U.N. confirmed that the WFP is “temporarily pausing operations at the floating dock until a thorough assessment of the security situation is conducted to ensure the safety of our staff and our partners.”

A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed to Fox News Digital that the pier is still operational and that 1,573 metric tons have been delivered from the pier. The spokesperson also said that U.S. military personnel are not operating in Gaza.

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Cindy McCain

Cindy McCain, executive director of the United Nations’ World Food Programme. (United Nations via Reuters Connect)

Relief agencies have pushed Israel to reopen land routes to bring in aid to Gaza. Israel, however, says it has allowed trucks to enter and says it is the fault of the U.N. as to why the aid hasn’t been distributed.

President Biden had announced his plan to build a pier during his State of the Union address in March, and the initial estimate was to get it up and running in 60 days. But the first aid trucks did not arrive at the pier until May 17.

Former IDF spokesperson and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Jonathan Conricus told Fox News Digital that “The continued provision of aid to civilians in Gaza is an Israeli priority in order to keep fighting and ultimately defeating Hamas and freeing both Israel and Gaza of this murderous terror regime.”

“Hamas continues to intentionally disrupt the provision of aid and continues to attack and loot warehouses, harass aid convoys and steal and sell international aid,” he said. “According to the behavior of various U.N. officials since Oct. 7, I will not hold my breath to hear their condemnation of Hamas’ efforts to obstruct the provision of aid, only to criticize Israel. I urge the WFP and all other international NGOs to resume provision of aid.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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