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Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh Holds a Press Briefing

SABRINA SINGH:  Great.  Hello, everyone.  Good afternoon.  Let me just get settled here.  All right.

So good afternoon, everyone.  Just a few things at the top, and then happy to jump in and take your questions.

So first, I want to start with an update on the maritime humanitarian corridor off the coast of Gaza.  On Saturday, May 25th, four U.S. Army vessels supporting the maritime humanitarian aid mission in Gaza were affected by heavy sea states, causing these motorized pier sections, which are used to stabilize the Trident Pier, to break free from their anchors due to a loss in power and subsequently beach ashore.

As of today, one of the Army vessels that was beached on the coast of Israel near Ashkelon has been recovered.  The second vessel that was also beached near Ashkelon will be recovered in the next 24 hours, and the remaining two vessels that were beached near the Trident Pier are expected to be recovered in the next 48 hours.  Efforts to recover the vessels are underway with the assistance from the Israeli Navy.

In addition, due to high sea states and the North African weather system, earlier today, a portion of the Trident Pier separated from the pier that is currently anchored into the coast of Gaza.  As a result, the Trident Pier was damaged and sections of the pier need rebuilding and repairing.

Therefore, over the next 48 hours, the Trident Pier will be removed from its anchored position on the coast and towed back to Ashdod, where U.S. Central Command will conduct repairs.  The rebuilding and repairing of the pier will take at least over a week and will — and following completion, will need to be re-anchored to the coast of Gaza.

The pier proved highly valuable in delivering aid to the people of Gaza.  Thus, upon completion of the pier, repair and reassembly, the intention is to re-anchor the temporary pier to the coast of Gaza and resume humanitarian aid to the people who need it most.

To date, over 1,000 metric tons have been delivered from the pier to the marshaling area for onward delivery by humanitarian organizations and into the hands of Palestinians.  Alongside our USAID teammates, we remain committed to working with the international community to get aid into Gaza as quickly as possible, and as we have more information and more updates, we'll be sure to pass that along.

Switching gears, the secretary earlier today hosted the Angolan minister of defense to discuss the growing U.S.-Angola bilateral defense relationship.  This visit builds on the success of the 2017 memorandum of understanding, the 2022 joint statement and Secretary Austin's trip to Angola in September, 2023.  A full readout of this meeting will be available on

And finally, tomorrow, Secretary Austin will depart for a trip to Singapore, Cambodia and France, his tenth trip to the Indo-Pacific as the Department of Defense continues to strengthen U.S. relationships with allies and partners in support of a shared regional vision for peace, stability and deterrence.  Secretary Austin will deliver plenar- — plenary — sorry, that word was tough for me — remarks at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore and meet with many of his counterparts, to include Singapore, ROK, Japan, ASEAN and others.  He is also planning to meet Admiral Dong, minister of national defense of the People's Republic of China.

In Cambodia, the secretary will meet with senior officials following his November, 2022 visit to Phnom Penh for the ASEAN Defense Minister's Meeting-Plus.  And in France, the secretary will participate in the president — with the president in commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Europe in World War II.  You will, of course, have more information on these events as they occur over the next week.

And before I start taking questions, like to welcome back Natasha, who also just got married, so congratulations.

And with that, happy to jump into questions. So Tara, do you want to start us off?

Q:  Sure, thank you.  To start with the pier, for those few days that has not been delivered, but was intended to go to the pier over this next week...

MS. SINGH:  Yeah.

Q:  ... is there any alternative route for it to get to the people of Gaza, such as increased air drops, et cetera.

MS. SINGH:  You're talking about the aid that's currently in Cyprus?

Q:  Right, that was going to be heading through the pier.

MS. SINGH:  So some of that aid that is currently in Cyprus is being loaded onto vessels.  So when the pier is re-anchored back onto the Gaza shore, that aid would already be prepositioned and can roll off pretty immediately.  For the rest of the aid that's in Cyprus, that's still an ongoing conversation that USAID is - leading in terms of how best to move that aid to the — to Gaza.

Q:  What about air drops?  Any talk about increasing the number of air drops or anything like that?

MS. SINGH:  Right now, we — I mean, we haven't — we continue to do air drops when possible.  I don't think air drops would be done out of Cyprus, but if there's a way to move aid that we could reposition it somewhere else and be able to conduct an air drop from somewhere else, that would certainly be a possibility.  But right now, the aid that's in Cyprus would either be preloaded onto other vessels or rerouted via USAID means.

Q:  Just one pier, and then another topic.

MS. SINGH:  Sure.

Q:   The service members that were injured last week, what's the status of all those three?

MS. SINGH:  I believe two of them have returned to duty, but you know what?  Let me — let me take that question on the two.  And those were minor injuries, but I believe we had read out that they were planning to be returned to duty, so let me just get back to you on that.  The third service member that was in critical condition still remains in critical condition.

Q:  On the airstrike this weekend in Rafah...

MS. SINGH:  Yeah.

Q:  ... was it a U.S. bomb that was used in that airstrike, or a U.S.-provided bomb that was used in that airstrike?  Have the Israelis been able to assure you that it wasn't?

MS. SINGH:  I do not know what type of munition was used in that airstrike.  I'd have to refer you to the Israelis to speak to that.

Q:  But if it was, shouldn't — I mean, shouldn't the U.S. be doing something to prevent additional airstrikes like this?

MS. SINGH:  Well, in every single case, whenever the secretary speaks to his counterpart, Minister Gallant — and you've heard us say both publicly from here and privately we always urge the IDF to consider civilian casualties in any type of operations that they conduct.

We're going to continue to urge them to take every single precaution and to do more to protect innocent civilians, but in terms of this particular strike, I just don't have more information for you.


Q:  ... I understand cause I get confused with the terminology ...


... and the causeway ...


... thing that was attached to the coast of Gaza has been removed completely?

MS. SINGH:  It's - it's in the process of being removed.

Q:  ... and then eventually come back?

MS. SINGH:  That's right.  Think of it as the way I described it - and I tried to make it as understandable as possible but obviously - not obviously having a visual, it's kind of difficult.  Think of that Trident pier as having, like, a large T, that top part of the T disconnected.  So that has been recovered, but in order to reassemble everything, it's going to - yep, it's going to detach from the coastline, move up to Ashdod, be reassembled and then reattached - re-anchored back.

Q:  ... got it.  And just on Rafah, the Secretary, I'm sure, has obviously received intel briefings, I'm sure he's seen images.  What's his reaction been?  I mean, you know, the argument is this could not have been done without U.S. weapons.  Is he proud of being associated with the Israeli military which now appears to have killed, you know, tens of thousands of civilians and - and many children just over the weekend?  Is he proud, is he ashamed?  What's his sort of - how does he look at this situation, I guess, from an emotional standpoint?

MS. SINGH:  Look, I think the Secretary, like all of us, saw the devastating imagery that came out of Rafah.  I know you saw it, you post about it as well.  With anything like this, with any type of strike, it's absolutely devastating to see the loss of life, and that's why in every single conversation that the Secretary has with Minister Gallant, he re-emphasizes the fact that there needs to be more done to protect innocent lives.

We - I believe the Secretary had a conversation with Minister Gallant last week.  They talk almost weekly.  I don't have any calls to preview today or read out but assure you that any time he speaks to Minister Gallant, this is something that - that comes up in conversation.


Q:  A couple of questions.  Sergeant Sanders - Kennedy Sanders' family says they still haven't received an autopsy.  She was killed January in Jordan.  And I was wondering if you could find - at least take the question why that hasn't happened and when they can get that?

MS. SINGH:  I don't have anything for you on that.  I'd refer you to, you know, the services to speak more on the autopsy results.  It’s obviously - if you're talking about Tower 22, that is an ongoing investigation, so I'd assume it has to do with the investigation itself.

Q:  ... taking my question because I think it's ...

MS. SINGH:  Sure, I can take the question.

Q:  And I want to follow up on  - Idrees's question cause I guess I'm having a hard time understanding.  The Secretary not that long ago was in the position of deciding whether to do strikes in the Middle East.  Just last week, he said he needed to see things done a lot differently.  And this was a strike done adjacent to a displacement camp.

I guess what I'm trying to understand is why does the Secretary continue to support these kinds of operations in Rafah on sites where it's not clear that the risk was so imminent that it required conducting such a strike adjacent to a camp?  You - you've mentioned several times that he mentions this in his calls with his Israeli counterpart, but I think we've been hearing that for months and it doesn't seem to be changing the course.

So given that he showed so much discretion when he was in uniform, that he's called for things to be done a lot differently, I'm having a hard time understanding why he continues to support the Rafah operation as it's been carried out thus far?

MS. SINGH:  Thanks, Nancy, for the question.  So I think we have to separate things a bit.  I think the - I don't think you mean this but I think the question is implying that we're somehow green-lighting Israeli operations as they happen in Rafah.  We are - have to make this very, very clear - we're not on the ground, not our operations.  We have nothing to do with how they conduct operations on the ground.

And as the Secretary has said, we don't support a large-scale operation within Rafah.  We are seeing movements of - within Rafah.  We are of course seeing the imagery that came from the strike that happened over the weekend.  No matter what anyone says, those images, what's happening on the ground, it's horrific, it's heartbreaking, and needs to stop.

We also have to remember that we are supporting Israel in their fight against Hamas.  And this is a terrorist organization that embeds itself within tunnels, that is using hostages, innocent civilians as human - as human shields and continues to do so.

So we are going to support Israel as they work to defeat Hamas, but we're also going to continue to tell Israel both publicly and privately that absolutely more can be done and should be done.  And we're not hesitating from that.  And every time the Secretary has a conversation with Minister Gallant, it is direct, it is very frank, and it's - it's respectful, but he is very direct.

And, you know, I think, again, we're going to continue to say that from - from here, both - both publicly and privately, but I have to urge you to remember that this is not our operation, we're not on the ground, and therefore we can't - we're not calling the shots as they happen.

Q:  I appreciate that, but the U.S. is providing weapons.  I wondered if we could - if we could get a list or - do you - it's - be a question you could take - when has the U.S. conducted a strike near a displacement camp, within a kilometer or two of one, just to give me some sense of how the U.S. has conducted operations around displacement camps?  I can't think of one off-hand but I was wondering if that was a ...

MS. SINGH:  Yeah, I think I - in terms of what you're referring to is in what was - what the Israelis have said about the Rafah operation.  And ...

Q:  ... trying to understand if - if there - we can get a list of - I can't think of an instance where the U.S. has conducted a strike so near a displacement camp, ask I was just trying to send - ask if there's a way that we can - if that would be a question to take in case there's something I'm missing?

MS. SINGH:  Yeah, again, totally hear your - totally hear your question, but just, again, if I take that question, we're comparing apples and oranges.  And right now, the U.S. is not on the ground in Gaza.  So let me just - holistically, what we are looking at right now is an operation in Rafah or - and in Gaza that the - that the United States government has nothing to do with, that has nothing - we're not - we're not on the ground, this is not our operation.

Yes, we are continuing to provide Israel with the weapons it needs to defeat Hamas, and we certainly welcome the reports, I think overnight or early this morning, that an investigation has been opened to look into this incident, but again, we can't compare the two things because we're not on the ground doing these operations.

And I have to remind you that Hamas - has created and is operating in a very condense environment and an environment where they have a very intricate network of tunnel systems that frankly we have not been up against.

So it - again, it's comparing apples and oranges here.  So I just - I urge you to take a - a step back here.  And - and I understand the question and I understand the intent behind it, but I do just have to urge that these are two very different situations.


Q:  ... (inaudible) ...

MS. SINGH:  All right, I'm going to move on, but - yep?

Q:  Just a second ago, you said ...

MS. SINGH:  Sure.

Q:  ... you guys have nothing to do with what's going on on the ground ...

MS. SINGH:  Correct we have no boots on the ground, it's not our military operation.

Q:  But the administration in recent weeks has withheld weapons shipments for reasons that have been said to, I guess, alter or prevent the Israelis from doing what the U.S. doesn't want to happen in Rafah.  So is it still the Pentagon's assessment this is a limited - what was the terminology used here?

MS. SINGH:  Limited operation.

Q:  Is that still the assessment?

MS. SINGH:  That is right now.  It is still our assessment that what is happening in Rafah and what the IDF are doing, it is limited in scope.

Q:  And so what is the department's assessment of what happened over the weekend?

MS. SINGH:  Well, we're still waiting to see the results of the investigation, which was just started by the IDF, I believe, this weekend.  They have released some initial findings about that, you know, that strike that occurred.  But I don't really want to get ahead of the investigation.  We need to see what they present us, and then, you know, happy to get back to you on that.

Q:  Did you guys reach out to them asking, or did they reach out to you guys trying to explain what happened?

MS. SINGH:  You — as you can imagine, all levels of this government at different agencies were in touch with various counterparts throughout the weekend to figure out and determine what exactly happened, and to get more information.  This is just developing over the last 24/48 hours, so when we have more information, I'm certainly happy to share it.  But right now, it's a preliminary investigation, and we have to allow that to continue its course.

Q:  And just one final one on the pier.

MS. SINGH:  Sure.

Q:  Do you have an id- — so the — the cost was around $320 million, the ballpark that you guys gave.

MS. SINGH:  Yeah.

Q:  Is that $320 million — you guys have to spend that again to re- — I mean, it's...

MS. SINGH:  No.  We don't have to spend it again.  I don't have an updated budget cost, but our initial assessments is — is still approximately around $300 million.  Should that change, should that fluctuate either up or down, I'd certainly let you know.

Lara?  Oh, I'm sorry.  Can I go to Liz, and then Lara?  I'd pointed to Liz, and then I'll come to you.  Yeah.

Q:  Thanks, Sabrina.

MS. SINGH:  Yeah.

Q:  Do you have a projected number of, like, the amount of aid that is going to be delayed because of this suspension?

MS. SINGH:  I don't have a projected number of the amount of aid.  That's something that USAID might be able to speak to just a bit better about what's actually housed and allocated in Cyprus.  I certainly — I mean, I would point out the fact that, you know, we have been able to surge — or get over 1,000 metric tons over that pier into Gaza, so we know it's effective.  But the most efficient way to get aid in would be through the land routes.

Q:  And you've said — you said a few minutes ago Secretary Austin continues to have hard conversations with his Israeli counterpart.  How does this suspension affect those conversations?  I know he's been pushing for land routes.

MS. SINGH:  How do they — how does the conversations affect the suspension of the...?

Q:  (inaudible).  This isn't working as it should because of the tough sea states.  You know, does this create more of a need for land routes or — or what — how is he getting (inaudible)?

MS. SINGH:  No, there's never been — there's never been a time where we haven't been advocating for the land routes to be open, and at a — certain points, you know, when we did see a closing or less aid getting in through the crossings, that was something that you heard not just from the secretary urging, but from different levels of government, different agencies urging for these land routes to open.  You saw the national security advisor also recently in the region.  So again, we continue to urge for the land crossings to be opened at all levels of government.

As we've said — and I know — I know I'm reiterating something that you know, but this is a temporary pier.  It's a temporary solution.  It is not going to be anywhere near getting close into how many trucks can get into Gaza through the pier.

So in any of the conversations that the secretary has with Minister Gallant, it's always a topic, the humanitarian assistance.  It consistently comes up, and the Israelis, we are seeing more land crossings opening up.  We are seeing more trucks getting in.  Is it enough?  It's not.  More needs to be done.  We need to see those crossings continue to open up to allow more trucks in.


Q:  Thank you.  I just wanted to ask a separate question about Rafah.  But there have been some reports today that — of Israeli tanks in central Rafah.

MS. SINGH:  Yup.

Q:  I was wondering if you could verify that information.  And then also, Israel has said it's expanding its operation in Rafah.  So is this – does DOD assess this is the limited operation — do you — does DOD still —- assess that this is a limited operation?

MS. SINGH:  Yeah, nothing has changed from what I said earlier.  We still assess it's a limited operation.  I've seen those reports.  We are seeing movement within Rafah.  That doesn't mean that its limitation in its scope and scale has changed.

Q:  Are we still — is the U.S. still sending weapons to Israel?

MS. SINGH:  Yeah, security assistance continues to flow.

Q:  When was the last time there was a weapons...?

MS. SINGH:  That I — I don't know.  I don't have — as aid continues to flow off, it's, you know, pretty consistent, but I'd direct you to State Department for more, because it's all through sales.

Q:  Are we sending additional dumb bombs?  Was it only that one shipment that was...?

MS. SINGH:  It's only that one shipment that was paused.

Q:  Well, so...

MS. SINGH:  I don't have anything — again, I don't have anything for you — I don't have, like, a readout of what we've sent to Israel since — since we paused that shipment.  We did pause that shipment that included — those 2,000-pound bombs.  I'm not aware that we've sent any more, but again, as security assistance continues to flow, they have what they need to defeat Hamas.  But I don't have a readout of every specific weapon system, munition, everything that has been sent to Israel since the — that pause in that one shipment.


Q:  Thanks, Sabrina.  You mentioned earlier in your statement that the four Army boats broke free from their anchors due to a loss in power, and subsequently beached ashore.  So just to clarify, did the boats suffer some sort of malfunction or problem aboard?

MS. SINGH:  I'm not aware of any problem aboard, or malfunction.  I believe it was because of the high seas states that it caused it to — that it caused the vessels to lose power.

Q:  OK, gotcha.  And just a quick follow-up.  So three of the Army boats are still beached ashore.  Is their recovery being complicated by the fact that we are barred – the soldiers are barred from setting foot — what's — boots on the ground in Gaza?

MS. SINGH:  No, the Israeli Navy has been a supportive partner in making sure that we can get those vessels back and operational.  It wasn't a hindrance when we had to anchor the temporary pier into Gaza.  We had worked with Israeli engineers, gone through the proper training in order that — needed to be done to anchor that pier into the coast.  So no, it's not a hindrance at all.


Q:  Once you pull the remains of the pier back to Israel and then bring it back to Gaza, what is to stop it from breaking apart again the next time the waves get a little choppy?  And is this thing a little too delicate for use in this situation?

MS. SINGH:  It's a good question.  I think unfortunately, we had a perfect storm of high seas states, and then, as I mentioned, this North African weather system also came in at the same time, creating not an optimal environment to operate this JLOTS — this temporary pier.

Look, I can't predict the weather, but we believe that given the time of year, we will be able to re-anchor this pier and it will be able to be operational, and hopefully, weather conditions won't hinder it anymore.  But we always make assessments based on, you know, environmental factors, and if we need to, you know, adjust, we will.  But we hope that it'll be fully operational with just a little over a week.


Q:  Thanks, Sabrina.

MS. SINGH:  Yeah.

Q:  Nikki Haley was on the border with Lebanon today in northern Israel, and she was photographed writing on a bomb, "Finish them. America loves Israel."  Is that sort of thing helpful?  What do you make of a potential shadow cabinet member traveling to Israel?

MS. SINGH:  Yeah, I don't have a comment on that.

Q:  OK, second then, I know you said you welcomed the Israeli probe into what happened in Rafah.  Does the Pentagon deem credible the I.F. — IDF's claim that this attack was a mistake?

MS. SINGH: Well, that's certainly what the investigation should reveal. And we have confidence that a government like the Israeli government can investigate and can do a proper and thorough investigation.

Q: One more if I may. Just on the boats that went onto the shore at Gaza, there was — how did the sailors or the soldiers get off the boats? Like, they didn't at any point go on the beach?

MS. SINGH: I believe most of our soldiers were able to remain on the vessels and still are currently on them. And that will be within the next 24, 48 hours. The Israeli Navy will be helping push those vessels back, and hopefully they'll be fully operational by then.


Q: Thank you.

MS. SINGH: Yes, sorry. Sorry. Yes.

Q: So, I asked your question about 21 days, three weeks ago here that this vague distinction between a major military operation and a limited military operation in Rafah. And you said, quote, a military operation would put at risk civilian lives and they're against anything that puts civilian lives at risk.

On Sunday, it not only put civilian lives at risk, it burned them alive and decapitated their child. Is this policy of major limited supportive, non-supportive? Is this policy not failed, would you not say? And is this not enabling the Israeli government to do whatever they like because it's limited, but it burned 45 people? So, that's kind of the stance in the Israeli government.

MS. SINGH: Well, we certainly take seriously what happened over the weekend. We've all seen the images. They're absolutely horrific. To Nancy's question earlier, I mentioned that the secretary has very direct and frank conversations with his counterpart. That's exactly what they are. They are tough conversations, and we do have them with our friends. And we are going to continue to do that.

Do we support what happened over the weekend? Of course, we don't want to see a loss of life like that. We don't want to see these images as much as you don't. And it certainly speaks to the challenges of what's happening on the ground. But we absolutely want to see innocent lives protected. And that's why publicly, privately, we're going to continue to urge the Israeli, the IDF, when they conduct operations, to take into account civilian casualties.

Q: Idrees asked that question, actually. But you know, you said that you don't want to see those pictures. I definitely don't want to. But if I sat through a phone call with the Israeli Defense Minister, like many times, that they were explaining to me that it's a mistake, we're going to conduct investigations, I think to say the least I'd be frustrated. I feel like I was being fooled.

So, what's the mood in this department? Like, you keep hearing the same thing and you're relaying the same things, and days change, months change, but the statements don't really change.

MS. SINGH: Well, I think you have to also appreciate that we don't read out every nitty gritty detail of conversations, but we do believe that when it comes to some of the operations and some of the way that the IDF has conducted itself within Gaza, that they have listened to us, that they have taken into some of the lessons that we have learned and some of the things that Secretary Austin certainly imparted on Minister Gallant.

Again, we don't want to see this tragic loss of life continue. We urge the Israelis, the IDF to do better when it comes to taking into account civilian lives and civilian harm. And we're going to — I know it might sound frustrating to you, but what we can do with our friends is to continue to have these hard conversations, and that's exactly what we're going to continue to do.

Yes. In the back. Yes.

Q: Thank you for doing this. Change the target to the North Korean launch of the military rocket since (inaudible) – yesterday. So, North Korea said the launch failed due to the air blast of the new pipe subject carrier rocket during the first stage flight. And also, the cause of the accident is attributable to the reliability of operation of the newly developed liquid oxygen - plus petroleum engine.

So, what is the U.S. assessment on this launch, and secondary, do you see any evidence or signs that Russia has supplied the first stage rocket for the latest launch or any assistance to the North Korea?

MS. SINGH: I don't have anything for the latter part of your question, re: Russia and North Korea.

On the first part, I believe INDOPACOM put out a statement as well. I direct you to that. We've seen these types of launches before. They're destabilizing. We always coordinate with our partners in the region, but I don't have anything more for you beyond the statement that was put out this weekend.


Q: Thank you, Sabrina. You have a comment on recent attacks on the U.S. brand restaurants in Baghdad, Iraq, such as KFC? Since last Saturday, two KFC branches and one Chili House branches were attacked.

MS. SINGH: I'm sorry, I just don't have anything for you on that.

Q: OK. And secondly, the leader of the National Movement Party in Turkey, with alliance to the ruling party of Turkey, has said Turkey and Syria should conduct a bilateral operation in northeast Syria where U.S. forces with it is as the partners are fighting against ISIS. How does the Pentagon look at the Turkish operation?

MS. SINGH: I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Can you just repeat your question?

Q: Yes. The leader of the Nationalist Party in Turkey, whose alliance to ruling party of Turkey (inaudible), he has said that Turkey and Syria should conduct a bilateral operation into northeast of Syria.

MS. SINGH: Oh, I see. OK.

Q: Where the U.S. forces with its alliance or partners, SDF, are fighting against ISIS.

MS. SINGH: Got it. So, I don't have anything for you on that. What I can tell you is our partnership with the SDF is to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS. We partner with them, as you know, on various missions to ensure that ISIS remains or cannot resurge in a way that it was many years ago, but I just don't have more to offer a comment on that. I'm just going to go to the phones and then happy to come back in the room. Missy Ryan, Washington Post.

Q: Hi, Sabrina. Thank you. Just to follow up on the earlier questions about the strike over the weekend. So, you said earlier that you all don't know if it's a U.S. provided munition or munitions that were dropped as part of that, but that, you know, there's lots of conversations that have been happening. Can you just tell us has, and also that the investigation is ongoing.

But has the department asked for that information? I would assume that that would be something that you all would want to know. And do you have any independent information about whether or not it's accurate? The Israeli claim that what appears to have occurred, or what occurred was the ignition of a weapons cache or some sort of secondary explosion. Thanks.

MS. SINGH: Missy, yes, I've seen what they initially put out. I think that was in their preliminary findings that you're mentioning. Again, the investigation is ongoing, so I'm not trying to get ahead of that. We expect the Israelis to conduct a thorough and independent investigation. But I'd like to wait until we get to the result of that investigation before we make any judgments.

I'm going to take one more from the phone, then happy to come back in the room. Sam Fowler, Tokyo Broadcast.

Q: My question's been answered. Thank you.

MS. SINGH: Joseph

Q: Just a follow up. It appeared you said that U.S. troops are still on those —

MS. SINGH: Vessels. Yes.

Q: — on those vessels. Do you have an idea of how many?

MS. SINGH: I don't. I would refer you to CENTCOM to speak to that.

Q: You guys can't take that for me?

MS. SINGH: I would refer you to CENTCOM to take it.

Q: And just a second one. This, the pier, I mean, everything that has happened with it, is it a result - what just happened, was it a result of poor planning, poor quality of - of whatever - you know, materials that were used?  Because a few weeks back, we asked in this room -  Pat, you know, how long can this pier be used for?  Because there are presumed high tides that come, usually towards the end of August.  We're not even into June when this happened.  So, I mean, what is it?  What - what's the - you guys put a lot of money into this and then it - it lasted for less than two weeks.

MS. SINGH:  Well, in those two weeks, what I would say is that over 1,000 metric tons of aid got to the people in Gaza.  So I don't think that's a total loss.  I think it's pretty important for the people that are suffering right now, that are in a dire humanitarian situation, to get whatever aid they can - by whatever means.

If you want to characterize it as a failure, I leave it to you.  What I can tell you is that we don't control the weather.  There was an unfortunate, unique pattern of events with high seas and another storm that came in that caused the JLOTS to become inoperable during that time.

You better believe that U.S. Central Command forces are going to do everything in their power to make sure that this is back and operational as soon as possible.  This is a mission directive that was set up by the President.  We take it very seriously.

We're - just as you were, we're seeing the reports on the ground of what people need, whether it be lifesaving food, water, medical needs.  We want to do everything possible to help.  And it is our forces, it is our men and women who are running towards the problem and trying to do everything they can to find a solution.

This is not going to be the solve - for land routes.  Airdrops are not the solve for land routes.  We need those land crossings to open, we need them to open every single day to allow more trucks in and - and - in through - into Gaza.

But I - I have to push back on the fact that this is a failure because at the end of the day you have, you know, men and women out there separated from their families who are putting themselves first - who are putting others first - to try and be part of a lifesaving humanitarian mission that has seen over 1,000 metric tons of aid come in, and I think that is commendable.

So look, I can't tell you that this gets anchored back into the beach and three weeks later there's another storm.  I - can't predict the environment, but right now, during this time - as you said, you know, up in August, we - we could see higher sea swells.  Right now, this is usually a time of relative calm.  So hopefully when we are able to re-anchor the pier back in, you'll be able to see that aid flow off in a pretty steady stream.

OK, Luis, and then I'll come to you, Idrees, and take a few more.  Yeah?

Q:  ... I have a pier question, but first, I want to ...


... you about something you said earlier when you talked about the imagery of the airstrike over the weekend.  You said it was heartbreaking, said - you said it was horrific, which I think you also said (inaudible), but you also said it needs to stop.  What exactly are you referring to when you say "it needs to stop"?  Are you talking about - I mean, because obviously you - you are waiting for the results of this investigation to come through, but what exactly are you referring to?  Are you referring to intentionality?  Are you talking to intent?  Are you talking about targeted attacks that impact civilian lives?

MS. SINGH:  I think - and I think I had more to say after that - but the - yeah, so what needs to - to stop is we need - we need - those vulnerable civilians to be protected, we need to see, you know, the population that is concentrated within Rafah and other places in Gaza to be better protected, and we want to see the IDF incorporate some of the lessons that we continue to impart on them, you know, better solidified in their operations.

Q:  And as far as that, part of what the administration, this building in particular, has been asking the IDF is that they be more precise in their targeting, so which would - it - I think the definition that you are putting forward of what a limited operation is into Rafah - and in this scenario, it appears that, you know, targeted strikes may have had a secondary effect somehow, but yet the Israelis may be following that and yet it leads to, you know, a situation like this one.

MS. SINGH:  So I think some of my words are being extrapolated here.  But when it comes to what happened over the weekend, the IDF is conducting an investigation, and as I said, I'm going to let the IDF continue that investigation before commenting or making any further judgments on that.

Idrees - sure.

Q:  My pier question is about every - excuse me - May 17th was the first day of operations.  By the time it get to June 5th, which may be the timeframe that you're talking about a week from now when repairs are going in, we may have eaten up already the first month of operations in what was foreseen as a three month operation.

So is it giving pause to the department that you may have to look at other alternatives via other (inaudible) sea routes into Israel or elsewhere into Gaza to supplement all this aid that is currently being - I understand how it's all being accumulated on the Benavidez but, I mean, other than that, because otherwise now we're going to be one month into this without full operational capabilities.

MS. SINGH:  So a lot there.  As you might remember, even though there are - there are folks that - that do give out timelines on how long certain things are supposed to operate, we did not put a timeline on how long the temporary pier could operate.  We said that approximately in this window is when we have that timeframe, but again, we didn't put an end date on this.  So we're going to continue to operate this temporary pier for as long as we can.

In terms of other routes or ways for the aid to get in, what you - what you're asking is, because of this delay, like, how will other aid get in?  And I think, you know, I - I sort of spoke to this, but that's what USAID is trying to figure out, other ways for the aid that's already on Cyprus, if it's land routes or other ways for it to get in.  We're working through that.

And you have to remember it's not just US aid, it's other NGOs, other partners, other countries who are invested in sending U.S. - in sending aid to Cyprus.  Some of that aid will be unloaded onto some of our vessels so it's pre-positioned.  And so when the temporary pier is re-anchored back onto the - onto the shore, we're pretty much ready to - to roll off right away.  But that's something that USAID is working through with other partners, and I just - I don't have a better sense for you.

Idrees?  And then I'll go to the back, and then we'll (inaudible).

Q:  You said "drifted away" earlier today.  The - did that end up off the coast of Gaza or Israel?

MS. SINGH:  I believe it was off the coast of Gaza and it was recovered.

Q:  And then how - did - did - did anyone have to come off the pier - how did you remove it without getting on shore, I guess?

MS. SINGH:  Again, it - I believe it didn't - it was still in the water, so it was able to be ...

Q:  (Inaudible)?

MS. SINGH:  Not to my knowledge.

Yeah, in the back?  Yeah?

Q:  Sabrina, after what's happened on the weekend on Rafah, so many reports we hear and read that they talking about the U.S. red line in Rafah.  So my question is did the - Secretary Austin outline what the red line is during his calls with the Israeli counterparts, or any DOD officials with their Israeli officials?  And did they specify where or what the red line is?

MS. SINGH: Yes, I don't have anything to comment on lines. What I can tell you is we've been very clear when it comes to operations within Rafah, we do not support, or we voiced our concerns with a major military operation within Rafah. Right now, as I've said, from here our assessment right now is it's still limited. Yes, they are maneuvering within Rafah. Yes, they are continuing to make some headway further in, but we still believe it's limited in scale.

Yes? And then to Mike, and then Tara.

Q: For the Italian television, I have a question about what Stoltenberg, the Secretary General, said I believe yesterday about giving weapons to Ukraine. He said each state can do what they want. If they want their weapons to be used towards Russia, that's fine. And that's brought a lot of discussion in Europe because it can bring a war if France, Macron decide to go for it - as example. What is the position of the Pentagon, please? And then I have another question.

MS. SINGH: Sure. Our position hasn't changed. We believe that in order for — we believe that Ukraine can be successful in its goals by continuing to take back its sovereign territory and using U.S. provided weapons to do that.

Q: So, but should, let's say single state decide how to use their own weapons in fight …

MS. SINGH: Yes, I can't speak for other countries. I can only speak for us. We've given them many different capabilities. Artillery, long range air defenses — or air defenses. Again, our position hasn't changed in terms of how we believe the Ukrainians can be successful on the battlefield. But I leave it to other countries to speak to their own weapons that they provide.

I'm going to go to Mike.

Q: Thank you, Sabrina. It's about Israel. So, in Italy, we all support Israel, of course, but we've seen like a lack of strategy. So, some European countries are taking different positions. So, we don't want to talk about red lines. But everyone is looking to the U.S. as leadership. So, what are the boundaries that should be set for Gaza? I mean, on Hamas and on Israel to avoid further loss of lives?

MS. SINGH: I think we've been pretty clear when it comes to in our conversations with the Israelis and how the IDF is conducting operations. I'm not going to repeat everything that I've said from here, but we've been very public and very clear about what we expect in Rafah. We want to see a credible plan from them that takes civilians into account.

Again, we are continuing to have these conversations with the Israelis. We believe more can be done to protect the lives of Palestinians that are on the ground and that are moving, also out of places like Rafah into, you know, other areas. I'm not going to repeat everything that I've said earlier, but you know, our conversations are ongoing and pretty frank when we have them.

Yes, Mike?

Q: Do you know what percentage of that thousand metric tons of aid that came to the pier has actually gone to the Palestinian people? And what percentage was taken by Hamas? And is that always been, like, the biggest problem in Gaza is not it's not so much getting aid there, but making sure once it's there that it gets to the right vehicles?

MS. SINGH: There has been an issue of self-distribution, but in terms of aid getting into the hands of Palestinians, I would let USAID speak to that.

Tara, and then we will wrap.

Q: Just back to the pier. Is there any chance that the pier won't be reinstalled? I mean, if the sea states remain rough, does it just become a point of, you know, you could put it back in, but it'll fall apart again?

MS. SINGH: No. We believe that there needs to be repairs that need to be made, some rebuilding to the pier. But at the end of the day, when this became operational, you saw aid begin to flow off that pier within, I think, 24 hours of when we were able to anchor it.

We believe that Central Command personnel will be able to repair it. A little bit more than a week it will probably take, and then it will be able to be re-anchored back in. I can't predict weather patterns. I can't predict that there won't be high seas again. But from when it was operational, it was working. And we just had sort of an unfortunate confluence of weather storms that made it inoperable for a bit, and that did cause some damage, but hopefully just a little over a week, we should be back up and running.

Q: And no matter what, the pier's going back in?


Q: OK.

MS. SINGH: All right, thanks everyone. All right. Thanks, everyone.