Aid from New Pier off Gaza to Be Distributed This Weekend as Pressure Grows on Netanyahu

This handout picture courtesy of the US Central Command (CENTOCOM) taken on May 16, 2024 shows US Army Soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), US Navy Sailors assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, and Israel army emplace the Trident Pier on the Gaza coast. (Photo by US Central Command (CENTCOM) / AFP)
This handout picture courtesy of the US Central Command (CENTOCOM) taken on May 16, 2024 shows US Army Soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), US Navy Sailors assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, and Israel army emplace the Trident Pier on the Gaza coast. (Photo by US Central Command (CENTCOM) / AFP)
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Aid from New Pier off Gaza to Be Distributed This Weekend as Pressure Grows on Netanyahu

This handout picture courtesy of the US Central Command (CENTOCOM) taken on May 16, 2024 shows US Army Soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), US Navy Sailors assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, and Israel army emplace the Trident Pier on the Gaza coast. (Photo by US Central Command (CENTCOM) / AFP)
This handout picture courtesy of the US Central Command (CENTOCOM) taken on May 16, 2024 shows US Army Soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), US Navy Sailors assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion 1, and Israel army emplace the Trident Pier on the Gaza coast. (Photo by US Central Command (CENTCOM) / AFP)

The first distribution of badly needed aid is expected to begin this weekend after rolling off a newly built US pier off the coast of Gaza, even as aid workers warn much more access is needed to the besieged territory where famine might be under way.

Israeli restrictions and heavy fighting in the war against the Hamas militant group — now in its eighth month — have left residents in parts of Gaza scrounging for weeds and animal feed, skipping meals and living on pale diets of bread. Deliveries to the territory that long has largely relied on humanitarian aid are still far from the average of about 500 trucks that entered daily before the war.

United Nations officials have not said where the truckloads of food would be distributed after arriving Friday and being stored in central Deir al-Balah.

US military officials anticipate the pier operation could reach 150 truckloads a day. Risks include attacks, logistical hurdles and a growing shortage of fuel.

The Israeli blockade of Gaza began after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel that killed 1,200 people and took 250 others hostage. Israel says around 100 hostages are still captive in Gaza, along with the bodies of around 30 more.

The Israeli offensive has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians in Gaza, local health officials say, while hundreds more have been killed in the occupied West Bank.

On Saturday, at least five police officers were killed in an Israeli strike on a car in the Nuseirat refugee camp, medical officials said. They were taken to a hospital in Deir al-Balah and counted by Associated Press journalists. The police are a civilian force distinct from Hamas’ military wing.

Overnight, at least three people were killed in a strike that hit a house in the Barbara refugee camp in the southernmost city of Rafah, according to the Kuwaiti Hospital. The hospital said in the last 24 hours it had received the bodies of six people killed in Israeli strikes. The military said it remained active in eastern Rafah.

In the West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry said one person was killed when an Israeli strike hit the city of Jenin on Friday night. The Israeli army said it struck a militant command center and killed Islam Khamaysa. He was a Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander in Jenin, according to the militant group and the army.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under growing pressure on multiple fronts. Hard-liners in his government want the military offensive on Rafah to press ahead with the goal of crushing Hamas.  

Top ally the US and others have warned against the offensive on a city where more than half of Gaza's population of 2.3 million had sheltered — hundreds of thousands have now fled — and they have threatened to scale back support over Gaza's humanitarian crisis.

The US national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, will be in Israel this weekend to discuss the war and is scheduled to meet with Netanyahu, who has declared that Israel would “stand alone” if needed.

Many Israelis, anguished over the hostages and accusing Netanyahu of putting political interests ahead of all else, want a deal to stop the fighting and get them freed. There was fresh frustration Friday when the military said its troops in Gaza found the bodies of three hostages killed by Hamas in the Oct. 7 attack.

The latest talks in pursuit of a ceasefire, mediated by Qatar, the United States and Egypt, have brought little. A vision beyond the war is also uncertain.  

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, a member of the three-member War Cabinet, in the past week openly said he has repeatedly pleaded with the Cabinet to decide on a postwar vision for Gaza that would see the creation of a new Palestinian civilian leadership.

Meanwhile, fighting recently erupted again in places Israel had targeted in the early days of the war and said it had under control, notably in northern Gaza.



More than a 100 Killed in Gaza in 24 Hours

Smoke from Israeli bombardment billows in the background near an area previously housing displaced Palestinians leaving Rafah towards Khan Younis on June 20, 2024, in the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
Smoke from Israeli bombardment billows in the background near an area previously housing displaced Palestinians leaving Rafah towards Khan Younis on June 20, 2024, in the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
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More than a 100 Killed in Gaza in 24 Hours

Smoke from Israeli bombardment billows in the background near an area previously housing displaced Palestinians leaving Rafah towards Khan Younis on June 20, 2024, in the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)
Smoke from Israeli bombardment billows in the background near an area previously housing displaced Palestinians leaving Rafah towards Khan Younis on June 20, 2024, in the southern Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict in the Palestinian territory between Israel and Hamas. (AFP)

 At least 42 people were killed in Israeli attacks on districts of Gaza City in the north of the Palestinian enclave on Saturday, the director of the Hamas-run government media office said.
One Israeli strike on houses in Al-Shati, one of the Gaza Strip's eight historic refugee camps, killed 24 people, Ismail Al-Thawabta told Reuters. Another 18 Palestinians were killed in a strike on houses in the Al-Tuffah neighborhood.

The offensive has left Gaza in ruins, killed more than 37,400 people, of whom 101 were killed in the past 24 hours, according to Palestinian health authorities, and left nearly the entire population homeless and destitute.

The Israeli military released a brief statement saying: "A short while ago, army fighter jets struck two Hamas military infrastructure sites in the area of Gaza City."
It said more details would be released soon.
Hamas did not comment on the Israeli claim to have hit its military infrastructure. It said in a statement the attacks targeted the civilian population and vowed in a statement "the occupation and its Nazi leaders will pay the price for their violations against our people."
Footage obtained by Reuters showed dozens of Palestinians rushing out to search for victims amid the destroyed houses. The footage showed wrecked homes, blasted walls, and debris and dust filling the street in Shati refugee camp.

More than eight months into the war, Israel's advance is now focused on the two last areas its forces had yet to seize: Rafah on Gaza's southern edge and the area surrounding Deir al-Balah in the centre.
Residents said Israeli tanks deepened their incursion into western and northern Rafah areas in recent days. On Saturday Israeli forces bombed several areas from air and the ground, forcing many families living in areas described as humanitarian-designated zones to leave northwards.
The Israeli military said forces continued "precise, intelligence-based" targeted operations in Rafah, killing many Palestinian gunmen and dismantling military infrastructure.
On Friday, the Gaza health ministry said at least 25 Palestinians were killed in Mawasi in western Rafah and 50 wounded. Palestinians said a tank shell hit a tent housing displaced families.