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US military constructs hulking metal pier amid Biden's $320 million gamble to get aid into Gaza

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US military constructs hulking metal pier amid Biden's $320 million gamble to get aid into Gaza

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The U.S. military has completed the construction of a hulking metal pier that is expected to be jabbed into a beach in northern Gaza in the coming days, officials said.

Completing the massive makeshift structure — approximately 1,500-ft long or the length of five U.S. football fields — is the first step in the Biden administration’s two-month-long, $320 million gamble to open a sea route to get humanitarian aid through the eastern Mediterranean and into Gaza, where Israel continues to wage war with the Hamas terror group.

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The construction of the new floating pier and causeway is risky for President Biden and the Pentagon as aid delivery teams face unknown dangers and uncertainties as they attempt to work around the challenges of getting aid into Gaza through the Rafah border.

“In the coming days, you can expect to see this effort underway. And we are confident that we will be able to, working with our NGO partners, ensure that aid can be delivered,” Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said Tuesday, noting humanitarian groups were ready for the first shipments through the new U.S. maritime route.

REPUBLICAN SAYS BIDEN HAS ‘STRENGTHENED’ HAMAS BY WITHHOLDING AID FROM ISRAEL: ‘COMPLETELY INCOMPETENT’

In this image provided by the U.S. Army, soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) and sailors attached to the MV Roy P. Benavidez assemble the Roll-On, Roll-Off Distribution Facility (RRDF), or floating pier, off the shore of Gaza in the Mediterranean Sea on April 26, 2024.  (U.S. Army via AP)

The administration’s effort to open the additional sea route comes as the intensifying war between Israel and Hamas has neared the land crossings in Rafah.

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Scott Paul, an associate director of the Oxfam humanitarian organization, described the sea route as “a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist” because land crossings could bring in all the needed aid, he said.

Paul suggested the amount of aid that is allowed to be delivered into Gaza is dependent on Israeli officials allowing it. Some officials have expressed concerns the aid could fall into the hands of Hamas, the very terrorists that Israel is seeking to eliminate from the Palestinian territory.

UN REVISES GAZA DEATH TOLL, ALMOST 50% LESS WOMEN AND CHILDREN KILLED THAN PREVIOUSLY REPORTED

“Like all of the land crossings, it comes down to the consent of the government of Israel,” Paul said. “If Israel is comfortable with allowing the maritime corridor to function … then it will work in a limited way. And if they don’t, it won’t. Which is why it’s a very, very expensive alternative.”

A photo of the floating pier

The pier is part of the Army’s Joint Logistics Over The Shore (JLOTS) system which provides critical bridging and water access capabilities. (U.S. Army via AP)

Ophir Falk, foreign policy adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Tuesday that the country had enabled the entrance of thousands of aid trucks into Gaza and would continue to do so.

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Falk accused Hamas of disrupting aid distribution by hijacking and attacking convoys.

The Israeli military said in a statement Tuesday that it will keep acting in line with international law to distribute aid to Gaza. It also has previously said there are no limits on aid.

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to Biden to allow in more aid and safeguard those workers.

Trucks carrying aid and supplies

U.S.-military-backed construction crews in the eastern Mediterranean created a hulking metal dock, completing the first part of the Biden administration’s $320 million effort to open a sea route to get humanitarian aid into Gaza. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Anastasia Moran, an associate director for the International Rescue Committee, a global humanitarian group, said truckloads of aid entering Gaza increased by 13% last month.

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The Israel-Hamas war has been particularly lethal to Palestinian civilians residing in Gaza with Palestinian health officials estimating more than 35,000 have been killed. Israeli officials estimate the number of deceased civilians is approximately 16,000 civilians. A U.N report from May 8 found the number of women and children killed so far in the war to be just under 13,000.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Russia hits Kharkiv supermarket in deadly attack

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Russia hits Kharkiv supermarket in deadly attack

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the airstrike “a manifestation of Russian madness”.

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Scores of people were killed or wounded when an aerial bomb hit a large store in the city of Kharkiv on Saturday afternoon, according to local officials.

The airstrike caused a huge fire to break out, with huge plumes of smoke seen filling the sky in social media footage. 

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said more than 200 people could have been inside the store. 

A second bomb hit the city’s central park, Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said.

Zelenskyy called the airstrike “a manifestation of Russian madness”, and appealed to Western countries to provide Ukraine with air defence systems.

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“When we tell world leaders that Ukraine requires adequate air defence protection … we are literally talking about how not to allow such terrorist strikes,” he said in a post on X.

“Only madmen like [Russian President Vladimir] Putin are capable of killing and terrorising people in this way,” Zelenskyy added.

Kharkiv region is situated about 20 kilometres from the Russian border. 

Moscow’s troops have in recent weeks captured villages in the area as part of a broad push, and analysts say they may be trying to get within artillery range of Kharkiv city. 

Ukrainian authorities have evacuated more than 11,000 people from the region since the start of the offensive on 10 May.

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Russia’s Kharkiv push appears to be a coordinated new offensive that includes testing Ukrainian defences in the Donetsk region further south, where Russia’s Defense Ministry said Saturday that its forces had taken over the village of Arkhanhelske. 

They have also launched incursions in the northern Sumy and Chernihiv regions.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has said the Kremlin’s army is attempting to create a “buffer zone” in the Kharkiv region to prevent Ukrainian cross-border attacks.

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Biden Set to Deliver Commencement at West Point on Saturday

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Biden Set to Deliver Commencement at West Point on Saturday
By Jarrett Renshaw WILMINGTON, Delaware (Reuters) – U.S. President Biden will deliver the commencement speech on Saturday at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, amid conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza. The speech before some 1,000 U.S. Army cadets is part of a push by Biden to highlight the …
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Israel forced to work on Jewish Sabbath as UN court judge calls out colleagues in scathing dissent

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Israel forced to work on Jewish Sabbath as UN court judge calls out colleagues in scathing dissent

A U.N. International Court of Justice (ICJ) chided her colleagues on Friday for requiring Israel to work on the Sabbath when responding to a case brought by South Africa to the ICJ under the Genocide Convention.

The dissenting opinion from ICJ Vice President Julia Sebutinde came in a nine-page document, issued in response to the court’s order for Israel to end its military offensive in the southern city of Rafah in Gaza. That ruling stems from South Africa’s request, which accuses Israel of genocide in its ongoing war with Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Israel has vehemently denied these charges. 

Among her disagreements with her colleagues, Sebutinde, who is Ugandan, objected to the court’s handling of South Africa’s request, and the “incidental oral hearings.” 

Judge Nawaf Salam, president of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), speaks next to Judge Julia Sebutinde, vice president of the ICJ, at the start of a hearing in The Hague Netherlands, on May 16. (Reuters/Yves Herman)

“In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s Request and engage counsel,” Sebutinde wrote, noting that the Israel’s preferred Counsel was not available on the dates scheduled by the Court. 

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“It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a Member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath,” Sebutinde said. “The Court’s decision in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the Parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.” 

Sebutinde also argued that the court’s initial ruling “does not entirely prohibit the Israeli military from operating in Rafah.” She also urged the court, to maintain its judicial integrity, to “avoid reacting to every shift in the conflict and refrain from micromanaging the hostilities in the Gaza Strip, including Rafah.” 

LINDSEY GRAHAM TELLS UN INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE TO ‘GO TO HELL’ OVER RULING AGAINST ISRAEL

Sebutinde clarified that the ruling operates to “partially restrict Israel’s offensive in Rafah to the extent it implicates rights under the Genocide Convention.” She warned that the ruling is “susceptible to ambiguity and could be misunderstood or misconstrued as ordering an indefinite, unilateral cease-fire, thereby exemplifying an untenable overreach on the part of the Court.” 

Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment in eastern Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 19, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (AFP via Getty Images)

The judges’ ruling on Friday stopped short of ordering a full cease-fire across the entire Palestinian territory, and Israel is unlikely to comply with the court’s ruling. Friday’s decision comes just days after Norway, Ireland, and Spain said they would recognize the Palestinian state, and the chief prosecutor of a separate international court sought arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as leaders of Hamas.

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Since Oct. 7, Israeli bombardments and ground offensives in Gaza have killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health, which doesn’t distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Israel launched its war in Gaza after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed about 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250. Israel says around 100 hostages are still captive in Gaza, along with the bodies of around 30 more.

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