Pentagon says none of the aid unloaded from US pier off coast of Gaza has been delivered to broader Palestinian population

None of the aid that has been unloaded from the temporary pier the US constructed off the coast of Gaza has been delivered to the broader Palestinian population, as the US works with the UN and Israel to identify safe delivery routes inside the enclave, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

Several desperate Gazans intercepted trucks delivering aid from the pier over the weekend, leading the UN to suspend the delivery operations until the logistical challenges are resolved.

The US is working with Israel and the United Nations to establish “alternative routes” for the safe delivery of the 569 tons of aid transported to Gaza since last week, Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said on Tuesday.

Asked whether any of the aid has been delivered to the people of Gaza, Ryder said, “As of today, I do not believe so.” He added that aid had been held in an assembly area on shore, but as of Tuesday had begun getting moved to warehouses for distribution throughout Gaza as alternative routes have been established.

A US official told CNN that the Defense Department and UN are still working to determine how much aid can be held at he staging area inside Gaza at any given time.

The amount of aid getting to the Gaza shoreline from its initial staging area in Cyprus has also fallen short of initial Pentagon estimates.

Since Friday, more than 569 metric tons of humanitarian assistance have been delivered through the temporary pier, called JLOTS, or Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore, to the shore of Gaza to be distributed by humanitarian partners, Ryder said. But Adm. Brad Cooper, the commander of the US Naval Forces Central Command, said last week that the US hoped to initially transport 500 tons of aid per day via the pier, and scale up as time went on.

Over the weekend, as trucks began moving the aid delivered off the floating pier, CNN reported that a group of men in Gaza intercepted the aid, saying they did not trust that it was actually meant for the Palestinian people.

“I have doubts,” Mounir Ayad, a Gaza resident, told CNN near the pier. “I don’t understand this floating pier or what it indicates and what its purpose is. They say it’s for aid, but people are apprehensive. Is this aid or something else? We know that the US has never supported the Palestinian cause, so it’s implausible that it’s giving us aid without something in return.”

Ryder acknowledged on Tuesday that some initial aid brought into Gaza was “intercepted by some people who took that aid off those vehicles.”

“Fully appreciating the desperation, but also fully appreciating the fact that it is very important that this aid get to the people who need it most, that’s going to continue to be the focus. So I understand, you know, the focus on why is this not working, or why is that not working, but what we’re focused on is how we can work to ensure that the Palestinian people get the aid.”

The Pentagon said in April that the goal was to deliver roughly 500 tons of aid — amounting to 90 truckloads — per day to the starving population of Gaza, with the intent of working up to 150 trucks daily. The pier was finally anchored to Gaza last week as the humanitarian situation in the enclave has only worsened.

Sonali Korde, assistant to the administrator of the US Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, said last week that conditions in Gaza “have not improved and in the past two weeks we have seen a vital border crossing close, and at a time when it is critical we see more aid move. Across Gaza, 2.2 million people, the entire population, is facing acute food insecurity.”

The US has faced a number of challenges with the pier, including planning around Israel’s operations in Rafah which could raise security concerns; early issues with establishing who would transport the aid from the pier into Gaza, as the US has repeatedly said no US troops would have boots on the ground; and logistical challenges like sea and weather conditions that could continue to limit the ability to use it.

Ryder said Tuesday that the US is continuing to push for aid to get in other ways, including through land routes. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is continuing to have conversations with his Israeli counterpart regarding the effort to get aid through land crossings, including through Rafah, he said.

When White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with Israeli officials as part of his trip to the Middle East over the weekend, the Israelis presented their latest thinking about a potential Rafah incursion during which the US side asked a lot of “hard questions,” according to a senior administration official. This person noted that the two sides will continue those discussions but that the Israelis have been incorporating US feedback and concerns as they continue to work through those plans. The official added that both sides share the joint goal of destroying Hamas.

As part of the discussions with the Israelis, US officials also made a series of “specific requests” with regard to humanitarian aid, which they have agreed to implement, according to the official.

One of these requests included helping facilitate aid distribution by getting the Israelis to agree to allow aid scanned in Cyprus to be sent directly to the Israeli port of Ashdod, bypassing Egypt. Currently, cargo not being transported to Gaza via the pier must go through Egypt to be scanned before then being brought into the enclave.

“I thought the the conversations were, were quite constructive and now we’re looking to see some of what was agreed unfold here over the coming days,” the official said.

Just Tuesday, according to this person, over 370 pallets of aid were distributed in Gaza.

The US has also made a number of air drops of humanitarian aid into Gaza in partnership with the Royal Jordanian Air Force. It’s unclear with what regularity those will continue; Ryder said Tuesday it is an “option we have available to us” but he declined to say whether that effort would continue “well into the future.”

The last humanitarian air drop announced by US Central Command was conducted on May 9.

“This is not a sole US military effort, it’s an interagency effort. It’s an international effort. And we understand the desperate need of the Palestinian people right now,” Ryder said of efforts to get aid into Gaza. “And we’re going to continue to work to get them what they need.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Sam Fossum, Kayla Tausche and MJ Lee contributed to this report.

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