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US drones still flying over Gaza, aiding hostage rescue, Pentagon says

Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the U.S. Department of Defense spokesman, insisted that the temporary pier anchored to the Gazan coast played no role in the recent rescue of four hostages.

Col. Dustin Thomas launches a 3-D-printed drone during a Blue Horizons demonstration on April 25, 2024 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Credit: Samuel King Jr./U.S. Air Force Photo.
Col. Dustin Thomas launches a 3-D-printed drone during a Blue Horizons demonstration on April 25, 2024 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Credit: Samuel King Jr./U.S. Air Force Photo.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the U.S. Department of Defense press secretary, insisted in a press conference on Monday that the temporary pier anchored to the coast of Gaza played no role whatsoever in Israel’s rescue of four hostages over the weekend.

Ryder told reporters repeatedly that U.S. troops were not at all involved in Saturday’s rescue operation but he said that U.S. drones continue to fly overheard to aid in rescuing hostages.

“Just to push back on some of the inaccurate social media allegations you saw over the weekend,” he told reporters, U.S. Central Command “pushed out a statement over the weekend that the humanitarian pier facility, including its equipment, personnel and assets, were not used in the IDF’s operation to rescue hostages in Gaza.”

“Any such claim to the contrary is false,” Ryder said. “To underscore, the temporary pier on the coast of Gaza was put in place for one purpose only: to help move additional urgently-needed lifesaving assistance to Gaza.”

Reporters pressed Ryder on whether U.S. troops were endangered either due to the proximity of the Israeli rescue mission to the temporary pier or because there had been rumors that the pier was involved in the operation.

“We’ve seen U.S. troops attacked and even killed before because of misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories,” one reporter said. “How would you categorize what we’re seeing right now with the pier and the belief in Gaza that U.S. troops are involved?”

“Disinformation and misinformation are challenges globally, but particularly in this environment, given what you’re seeing play out in the Israel-Hamas conflict,” Ryder said. “There is a lot of misinformation and disinformation about what U.S. forces are not doing, which is why briefings like this and others that we do are important.”

Ryder also spoke about U.S. involvement in hostage recovery operations.

“Beyond the broad acknowledgment that the U.S. is supportive and is, you know, providing—has provided support generally when it comes to hostage recovery efforts,” he said, “we’re just not going to get into specifics on details, in terms of what intelligence support may or may not have looked like.”

“I can tell you that there was no U.S. military involvement in this rescue operation, nor were there any U.S. forces on the ground,” he added.

“Are U.S. drones still flying over Gaza to help with hostage rescue efforts?” a reporter asked.

Ryder said they were.

“We do continue to provide support in that regard,” he said. “But again, I’m not going to be able to go into any more specifics than that.”

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