3327
Views

Report: U.S. is Going to End Gaza Aid Pier Early, Possibly Within the Month

Gaza aid pier
Gaza aid pier has been plagued with problems and now reports are the U.S. is ready to give up on the effort (CENTCOM photo from May)

Published Jun 18, 2024 5:13 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

The much-criticized Gaza aid pier, which has also become a focus on partisan political actions, is reportedly going to be ended after failing to achieve its mission. According to a report from The New York Times on Tuesday, military officials have begun telling aid organizations that the effort to maintain the aid pier will stop possibly within the month.

The Biden administration rushed the pier project in March as a means of increasing the flow of food and humanitarian assistance into Gaza where aid workers said the situation was desperate. U.S. officials at the beginning of the month estimated that $230 million had been spent on establishing the pier including more than $23 million to make repairs after the pier broke apart in rough weather at the end of May.

Critics said the plan was poorly conceived from the start in part because it was in an exposed area. Also, it is more efficient to truck aid into the area but the pier was meant to apply pressure on Israel to permit more aid to reach Gaza. Frustrated, the U.S. turned to the pier saying it was a short-term effort only designed for the relative calm in the Mediterranean between April and September.

The pier took longer than anticipated to assemble and position with it finally opening in the middle of May but a week later was damaged by what the U.S. military command called “unanticipated weather.” It reopened in June but last Friday, the U.S. reported it was again being suspended and moved to the port of Ashdod. They said it was done to protect the crews working on the pier as well as to prevent more damage.

“The decision to temporarily relocate the pier is not made lightly but is necessary to ensure the temporary pier can continue to deliver aid in the future,” CENTCOM said in its statement on Friday. They vowed to “rapidly re-anchor” it in Gaza when the heightened sea state subsided.

 

Trucks so far have moved 7.7 million pounds of aid using the temporary pier (CENTCOM)

 

Relief organizations said the project was also flawed because of the problems getting the aid from the pier to warehouses and distributed. An early convoy was overrun and looted. Later reports said safety considerations were preventing teams from receiving the aid. U.S. personnel were not permitted to leave the pier, but three soldiers were injured in a non-military incident. One was reported in critical condition and airlifted from Israel for treatment. Details were not released but it was believed to have been an accident with a forklift.

The U.S. is saying that as of June 14, a total of 7.7 million pounds of aid had been laded since the operation began on May 17. Since the pier was reopened on June 7, they had handled approximately 5.5 million pounds and commanders had said they were hopeful that volumes would be increased. By comparison, CENTCOM said so far, the U.S. has airdropped 2.3 million pounds of aid into Gaza.

The aid pier also became the focal point of partisan politics in Washington D.C. Republicans vocally criticized the effort calling for it to be stopped immediately. New amendments were being added by the U.S. House of Representatives to the upcoming Defense Authorization Act to prohibit additional monies from the next budget being spent on building or maintaining a pier in Gaza.

Today’s report in The New York Times does not set a timeline for the pier effort to end but says unidentified “military officials” are now warning aid organizations that the pier could be “dismantled as early as next month.” The article speculates that the Biden administration is leaking the details in a further effort to pressure Israel to permit more trucks carrying aid to enter Gaza.