WASHINGTON – The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) has “paused” its distribution of humanitarian aid from a U.S.-built pier off Gaza, the head of the U.N. agency said Sunday, saying she was “concerned about the safety of our people” after one of the deadliest days of the war in the area.

An Israeli military offensive was carried out on Saturday in which four hostages were freed, an operation in which 274 Palestinians and one Israeli officer were killed. In addition, two WFP warehouses in Gaza were “shelled,” injuring one staff member, said WFP program director Cindy McCain.

Sunday’s announcement to suspend activities appears to be the latest setback for the U.S. sea route, which was set up to try to bring more aid to a Gaza population suffering from starvation.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) referred to the suspension as a step to allow the humanitarian community in Gaza to conduct a review of security conditions. USAID works directly with WFP and its humanitarian partners in Gaza to distribute food and other assistance through the U.S.-operated pier.

Following its completion in mid-May, the U.S. pier was in operations for about a week before it was rendered unusable for two weeks when it was damaged by a storm. Following repairs, it resumed operations on Saturday with the distribution of 492 tons (1.1 million pounds) of food and other assistance, until McCain announced that his agency would suspend humanitarian work at the facility.

WFP did not go into details, including the duration of the suspension. Spokesmen for the program did not respond to requests for more information.

Asked about the dock operation, McCain told CBS’ “Face the Nation” program that “right now we’re on pause.”

“I’m concerned about the safety of our people after yesterday’s incident,” McCain said without elaborating. “Also, two of our warehouses, the warehouse complex, were bombed yesterday.”

“We have taken a step back for the time being,” he pointed out, and “(we) want to make sure we are on safe terms and in a safe place before we restart. But we continue to operate in the rest of the country. We are doing everything we can in the north and in the south.”

USAID said in a statement sent to The Associated Press that it is working with other government authorities and humanitarian groups in Gaza to “ensure that the movement of aid can safely and effectively resume following the completion of the security review that the humanitarian community is currently working on.”

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