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U.S. Launches “Coordinated Review” of Troubled Gaza Pier and Aid Mission

Gaza aid pier
A review will look at the operation of the problem-plagued Gaza aid pier (CENTCOM photo)

Published Jun 28, 2024 12:43 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

The Inspectors General from the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Agency for International Development confirmed that they are launching coordinated, independent oversight projects to review the delivery and distribution of U.S. humanitarian assistance to Gaza through the maritime corridor. It comes as operations at the temporary Gaza pier are suspended for maintenance and there have been rumors that the Department of Defense was planning to end the temporary effort sooner than originally planned.

According to the joint announcement, the two agencies will review key aspects of their shared mission to provide humanitarian assistance to Gaza. No timeline was announced for the review which both agencies said would be conducted in phases.

“The DoD OIG and USAID OIG are working together to address the challenges associated with this mission,” said DoD Inspector General Robert Storch. “Through our collaboration, we will leverage the unique expertise, resources, and capabilities of our teams to optimize our oversight in this important area.”

The DoD Office of Inspector General reports it will assess the effectiveness of DoD’s efforts to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza through the maritime corridor. The review will first assess DoD’s roles, responsibilities, and controls and then the implementation of the mission. USAID’s Office of Inspector General will focus on the plans and controls over the distribution of the aid through the maritime corridor. It will assess the handover of aid for the pier to the UN World Food Program on the beach.

After taking longer than expected to implement, the pier started operations approximately six weeks ago under what the U.S. said would be a temporary effort to increase the flow of aid into Gaza. Since May, the pier has broken loose and been damaged by heavier than expected seas, required repairs, and was removed for a second time to prevent further damage from more heavy seas.

U.S. Central Command on Monday said the pier had been in continuous operation between June 19 and 24, but that operations at the pier were pausing for “scheduled maintenance activities.” They said that Sunday had been the largest single day with 1.58 million pounds of aid delivered and a total of just over 3 million pounds over the course of the weekend.

The pier however has become a political flashpoint in Washington, D.C. with the chair of the House Armed Services Committee, Republican Mike Rogers of Alabama releasing a letter sent to the Biden administration in which he called the project “a gross waste of taxpayer dollars.” Saying it has been “riddled with setbacks, sidelined more often than operational” he called the immediate end of the program. Republican Senator Roger Wicker from Mississippi and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee has also called for the immediate end of the pier.

U.S. officials have said since the start that it was a temporary program that would only be possible till the fall before weather conditions deteriorated in the Mediterranean. CENTCOM in its last update on Monday reported since May 17, more than 6,206 metric tons (13.6 million pounds) of humanitarian aid has been delivered from the pier to the marshaling area where it can be collected by humanitarian organizations for distribution.

Critics have also cited problems and security concerns with the handoffs and convoys to move the aid. Some of the early efforts were reportedly shelled and the convoys looted before they could reach the warehouses. It comes as the UN continues to warn of widespread hardships and looming famine in Gaza.