US

US port to increase Gaza aid won’t need boots on the ground, officials say

The US military will establish a temporary port on the Gaza coast to increase the flow of humanitarian aid to the beleaguered territory, Joe Biden is to announce.

The US president is to make the announcement in his State of the Union address.

The plan – which an Israeli official has reportedly said Israel “fully supports” – will provide capacity for hundreds of additional truckloads of aid each day.

It will allow more shipments of food, medicine and other essential items into Gaza, US administration officials have told Sky News’ partner network NBC News.

The operation will not require American troops to be on the ground, and Israeli officials could screen the goods at the city’s port, the US officials said.

The port is expected to take a number of weeks to plan and execute.

Read more:
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Plan for US port in Gaza is fraught with peril


Dominic Waghorn - Diplomatic editor

Dominic Waghorn

International affairs editor

@DominicWaghorn

This is a big moment in the war.

It is a sign that America does not buy Israeli claims they are getting enough aid into Gaza and it’s the aid agencies and UN’s fault it’s not getting to where it’s needed.

Joe Biden’s patience with Israel has all but run out and he’s now sending in his own military to make up for the shortcomings and failure of one of America’s closest allies.

And that move does not come without huge risks. Building a port in the middle of a war is fraught with peril.

We are told it will not involve American boots on the ground, just forces at sea, but it is hard to see how the US will be able to guarantee the security of its forces.

There are enemies of America in Gaza whose patrons in Iran would love to score points in a US election year by striking a blow against the American military.

The decision self-evidently escalates and intensifies US involvement in the war, a mission creep that may not stop there.

The other vital point to make is that this will take weeks to build – if not months – and the malnourished masses of Gaza need feeding quicker than that.

Shipments will come via Cyprus enabled by the US military and a coalition of partners and allies, US officials also told NBC.

Earlier this week, EU officials were in Cyprus to discuss the establishment of a maritime aid corridor with a platform at Larnaca on the island.

Israel launched its offensive in Gaza after Hamas attacked the country on 7 October, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducting around 250.

More than 100 hostages were released in November in exchange for 240 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel.

The number of Palestinians killed has reached more than 30,700, according to the Hamas-led health ministry in Gaza.

The territory is facing a worsening humanitarian catastrophe, with aid groups warning that it has become nearly impossible to deliver supplies within most of Gaza.

Gaza
Image:
There is a scramble for aid in Gaza

Palestinian children wait to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen in Rafah. Pic: Reuters
Image:
Palestinian children wait to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen in Rafah. Pic: Reuters

Many Palestinians, especially in the devastated north, are scrambling for food to survive.

Sir Mark Lowcock, former head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, has told Sky News that without far more aid, there will be an “explosion” in the number of people dying.

“The death toll from starvation and related diseases is going to be larger than the 30,000 people who are estimated to have been killed already by the bombs and the bullets,” he said.

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