A UK ship to house hundreds of US army personnel building a jetty to speed up aid delivery to Gaza has set sail from Cyprus, a UK defence source said Saturday.

Royal Navy support ship "Cardigan Bay" will help support the international effort to construct the temporary floating pier, which is set to be completed early May, according to the Pentagon.

The pier will initially facilitate the delivery of 90 truckloads of international aid a day into Gaza, rising to up to 150 truckloads once fully operational, according to US estimates.

The aid will be pre-screened in Cyprus and delivered directly to Gaza via the pier off the coast or via Ashdod Port, which Israel has said it will open.

"It is critical we establish more routes for vital humanitarian aid to reach the people of Gaza and the UK continues to take a leading role in the delivery of support," UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said.

The UN insists that an increase in the flow of humanitarian aid by land is needed to help a starving population facing shortages of medical supplies.

The war in Gaza was triggered by Hamas's October 7 attack on Israel that resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 34,356 people in the Gaza Strip, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.
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