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World Food Programme Pauses Use of US Aid Pier in Gaza Due to Israeli Attacks

WFP already has to “make choices every day to take food from the hungry to give to the starving,” a UN official said.

A Palestinian girl climbs over debris a day after an operation by the Israeli Special Forces in the Nuseirat camp, in the central Gaza Strip on June 9, 2024.

The UN food program has been forced to pause aid shipments through the U.S. military’s “humanitarian aid” pier in Gaza after its warehouses came under attack amid Israel’s massacre of Palestinians in Nuseirat on Saturday, the agency announced as it warned that famine is looming in Gaza.

UN World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Cindy McCain said on Sunday in a CBS interview that “two of our warehouses were rocketed yesterday, so we’ve stepped back just for the moment to make sure that we’re on safe terms.” One person was injured in the shelling, she said.

McCain said she did not have details on how the warehouses were attacked. However, the warehouses were attacked on Saturday — the same day that Israeli forces carried out a horrific massacre of 274 Palestinians, including at least 64 children, in an attack on Nuseirat refugee camp that was part of an effort to free four Israeli hostages.

The pause in shipments through the aid pier comes as famine is looming, if not already widespread, for Palestinians in Gaza. A recent report by the WFP and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization found that half of Gaza’s population, or over 1 million people, are at risk of facing death and starvation by mid-July — up from a quarter of the population experiencing famine in March, according to a UN-backed report published that month.

“The bottom line here is, I make choices every day to take food from the hungry to give to the starving. We need a ceasefire, we need it now so [famine] doesn’t happen in the south,” McCain said, adding that southern Gaza is “right on the edge” of the “full-blown famine” that she warned in May had already spread through the north.

“We are reassessing the safety aspects of where we should be and what this means for us,” McCain added in an interview with The Washington Post. “It made things a lot more dangerous…. The crowd is already hungry. They’re desperate. And then to have something like this occur?”

The U.S. aid pier was erected in May, after Israel began its ruthless invasion of Rafah by closing what was then the last humanitarian aid corridor into Gaza in an acceleration of its genocidal starvation campaign. The pier has been nearly a total failure, with the paltry amount of deliveries entering through the pier failing to reach Palestinians and the structure having been inoperable for nearly more time than it has been operable due to weather and logistical issues.

Palestinians and aid groups have fiercely criticized the construction of the pier, saying that it is at best a PR response and at worst a covert way for the U.S. to increase its military presence in Gaza.

“There are more than 1,000 soldiers and marines, American soldiers and marines, besides Israeli soldiers now in the port, why? To distribute food? We can do it. Humanitarian workers can do it also. So why? Because it is a military base,” said Palestinian journalist Bisan Owda in May. “It’s a military base. It’s not a seaport, it’s not a temporary seaport, it’s not a humanitarian sea port. If you wanna solve the humanitarian crisis, you can open the borders.”

The pier also faced scrutiny over the weekend after allegations emerged that the pier was used in Israel’s slaughter in Nuseirat — allegations that the U.S. has denied.

EuroMed Human Rights Monitor called for the allegations to be investigated, citing reporting from Israeli sources that Truthout was not able to verify that Israel deployed a vehicle holding Israeli soldiers, disguised as a humanitarian aid truck, from the area surrounding the pier. The Pentagon has said that Israeli forces used an area near the pier as part of the Nuseirat raid.

The human rights group also condemned the U.S. for allowing U.S. “hostage cell” officialsintelligence officials who have been providing aid to Israeli forces on the ground in Israel since October — to be involved in the massacre and blood-soaked hostage recovery mission, as multiple outlets like The Washington Post and Axios have reported.

“The rules of international humanitarian law state that it is illegal to gain the trust of an adversary through actions that lead them to believe they are entitled to protection or must provide it, with the intent to betray that confidence, resulting in their death or injury,” EuroMed Monitor wrote in a statement. “This includes simulation of civilian status, using civilian transportation or vehicles designated for humanitarian aid, or wearing civilian attire or attire of humanitarian relief workers as cover.”

U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) denied the allegation on social media. “The humanitarian pier facility, including its equipment, personnel, and assets were not used in the operation to rescue hostages today in Gaza,” said a CENTCOM statement. “Any such claim to the contrary is false.”

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