US looking into maritime corridor to get aid to Gaza: Pentagon

The U.S. is looking into setting up a maritime corridor to get aid into Gaza via sea amid a deepening humanitarian crisis, the Pentagon’s top spokesperson said Tuesday.

“In coordination with the U.S. interagency and international partners, we are actively reviewing options for a maritime corridor for humanitarian assistance into Gaza, including potential commercial and contracted options,” press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters.

He wouldn’t speak to the options being reviewed but added that the U.S. military “would be only in a supporting role” in providing aid, an effort headed by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“Were we to be involved in that, it would be in the form of unique DoD capabilities,” Ryder said. “We’ll continue to work with the interagency on what that might look like going forward.”

The U.S., with the help of Jordan, has conducted two airdrops to get humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza, one on Saturday and one earlier on Tuesday, but the method is seen as costly and inefficient.

U.S. C-130s dropped over 36,800 U.S. and Jordanian meal equivalents in northern Gaza in the latest effort, according to a statement from U.S. Central Command.

U.S. officials have said they will continue to try to get assistance into Gaza, and further options being considered include a maritime corridor and pressing Israel to allow more aid trucks into the devastated Palestinian territory.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin earlier on Tuesday met with Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz, where he “expressed strong concerns over the humanitarian situation in Gaza” and requested Gantz’s support in enabling more humanitarian assistance to get into the narrow strip of land, according to a Pentagon readout of the meeting.

Gantz, a political rival of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been in Washington, D.C., to meet with top Biden administration officials, including Vice President Harris, on Monday.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken also spoke with Gantz in a separate meeting where he reportedly also pressed for Israel to open another crossing for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza.

As of last week, the number of Palestinians killed in the Israel-Hamas war tipped over 30,000, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The ministry does not distinguish between fighters and civilians, but international aid groups have said the majority of the dead are women and children.

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