Defense Department says Gaza aid pier to be back in place this week

The temporary Gaza aid pier that had been removed to avoid further seas damage is expected to return to operation later this week, the Defense Department said Tuesday. After being damaged in May the pier was towed to Ashdod, Israel. File Photo by U.S. Central Command/UPI

June 19 (UPI) -- The Defense Department said Tuesday that the Gaza pier built by the United States and damaged by high seas is expected to be back in place this week.

The pier was damaged and then towed to Ashdod, Israel to avoid further damage. The pier has been used to help deliver Gaza humanitarian aid since May 17.

"We expect it will go operational again this week," Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said Tuesday during a briefing. "As far as airdrops go, we do have the capability and do intend to continue conducting airdrops."

Ryder said the pier, which is meant to be temporary, has delivered substantial aid to Gaza despite the damage.

He said the Defense Department is using "all avenues" including the pier to get assistance into Gaza.

"Since the pier was put in place about a month ago, we've been able to shuttle over 3,500 metric tons, or 7.7 million pounds, of aid onto the shore in Gaza, via this temporary pier," Ryder said.

In addition to the pier, U.S. Central Command has delivered humanitarian airdrops into Gaza in partnership with the Royal Jordanian Air Force, since March.

About 40 airdrop missions have delivered tons of food water and prepared meals. The most recent airdrop was 11 tons on June 9.

Earlier this month CENTCOM said initial damage from heavy storms at sea in May had been repaired and the pier was restored. But more repairs were needed after that.

The original cost estimate of the repairs was $320 million, but that was later revised down to an overall cost of $230 million.