US military pier temporarily removed from Gaza coast for repairs

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Navy personnel construct a JLOTS to assist aid to Gaza in the Mediterranean Sea

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A U.S. military-built pier off Gaza's coast is being temporarily removed after a part of the structure broke off, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, in the latest blow to efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians.

The pier was announced by U.S. President Joe Biden in March and involved the military assembling the floating structure off the coast. Estimated to cost $320 million for the first 90 days and involve about 1,000 U.S. service members, it went into operation two weeks ago.

Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh said a portion of the pier had separated and that the pier would be towed over the next 48 hours to Ashdod port in Israel for repairs.

Singh added the pier would take over a week to repair and then returned to its place off the coast of Gaza.

U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters earlier on Tuesday that bad weather was believed to be the reason that the part of the pier had broken off.

Since the pier began operations, the United Nations has transported 137 trucks of aid from the pier - the equivalent of 900 metric tons - said a U.N. World Food Programme spokesperson.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart; Editing by David Holmes and Deepa Babington)