The American container ship the Sagamore, which departed from Larnaca on Thursday laden with humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza, is waiting off the coast of the Israeli town of Ashdod as of Friday morning.

According to maritime tracking companies, the ship is located around six kilometres off Ashdod.

The Israeli government had opened Ashdod’s port for humanitarian aid deliveries in early April after they killed seven aid workers from the non-governmental organisation World Central Kitchen (WCK) and Cyprus’ nascent humanitarian aid corridor to Gaza, known as the Amalthea plan, ground to a halt.

From Ashdod, aid can make its way over land to Gaza via the Erez crossing point, which is located on Gaza’s northern edge.

The most recent shipment of humanitarian aid sent from Cyprus to Gaza aboard the ship the Jennifer landed at Ashdod on April 28.

It was initially believed that the aid aboard the Sagamore which departed on Thursday would utilise the temporary jetty which was being constructed by United States forces off the coast of Gaza itself.

However, as US air force major general Pat Ryder explained on Thursday night, while the construction of the temporary jetty is now complete, it has not yet been moved into position. The jetty, like the Sagamore, is now located off the coast of Ashdod.

Ryder refused to be drawn on a date regarding the date on which the jetty will be placed into position but said, “we expect these temporary piers to be put into position in the very near future, pending suitable security and weather conditions.”

He added that the Sagamore will soon transload its cargo onto the US naval vessel the Roy P Benavidez, which is also located off the coast of Ashdod, to begin the process of delivering the aid.

He went on to say that once the jetty is in position, “this will allow for the Benavidez to load the aid to logistics support vessels and delivery while the Sagamore is back in Cyprus to enable the loading of additional aid.”

Earlier this week, questions had been raised regarding the jetty’s capacity, which was perceived as low at an initial 90 lorryloads per day, rising to 150 per day once the operation is in full swing.

Asked about this issue, Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh on Wednesday highlighted that the jetty is a “temporary” solution, and that “the best way” to transfer humanitarian aid into Gaza was through land routes.

The jetty’s potential placement has also been a cause for concern among some quarters, with British newspaper The Guardian having reported last week that the jetty’s placement may be too far south to help alleviate the “very high” risk of famine in the northern part of Gaza.

The north of Gaza, including Gaza City, has been effectively cut off from the rest of the strip by a military road constructed by the Israeli Defence Force which connects Israel with Gaza’s coast, known as the Netzarim corridor.

As such, if the jetty is placed south of the Netzarim corridor, any aid sent towards Gaza City and the rest of the north of the strip will still have to pass through an IDF checkpoint. This would arguably defeat the point of shipping the aid directly to Gaza.