US Removes Gaza Aid Pier Due to Weather, Future Uncertain

June 29, 2024 by No Comments

U.S. officials have announced that the pier built to deliver aid to Gaza has been removed due to adverse weather conditions. The decision was made to protect the pier, and its reinstallation is being reconsidered. The U.S. is evaluating whether to reinstall the pier, contingent on the resumption of aid distribution to the population.

While the military has facilitated the delivery of urgently needed food via the pier, a significant portion remains in the adjacent storage yard, which is nearing capacity. Aid agencies have encountered challenges in transporting the food to areas where it is most critical due to attacks on humanitarian convoys.

The U.N., which has the most extensive reach in delivering aid to Palestinians facing hunger, has suspended its food and emergency supply distributions through the pier since June 9. The suspension followed an incident where the Israeli military utilized an area near the pier to evacuate hostages after their rescue operation, resulting in the deaths of over 270 Palestinians. This prompted a U.N. security review due to concerns about the safety and neutrality of aid workers.

spokesman Steve Taravella stated on Friday that the U.N.’s involvement in the pier project remains paused pending the resolution of these security concerns.

While always intended to be temporary and never presented as a complete solution to the challenges of delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza, President Joe Biden’s $230 million project has encountered a series of setbacks since the initial aid shipment arrived on May 17. It has faced criticism from relief organizations and congressional Republicans as an expensive distraction.

The pier has facilitated the delivery of over 19.4 million pounds, or 8.6 million kilograms, of food into Gaza. However, its operations have been hindered not only by aid pauses but also unpredictable weather. Rough seas damaged the pier just days after its initial deployment, necessitating its temporary removal for repairs and subsequent reinstallation. Heavy seas on Friday compelled the military to remove the pier again and transport it to the Israeli port of Ashdod.

Several U.S. officials, speaking anonymously to discuss military movements, indicated that the military could reinstall the pier once the current weather conditions improve in the coming days. However, the final decision on reinstallation remains pending.

Sabrina Singh, a Pentagon spokeswoman, acknowledged that the timeline for reinstallation is uncertain. She stated, “When the commander decides that it is the right time to reinstall that pier, we’ll keep you updated on that.”

She also mentioned on Friday that there is a need for additional aid to arrive in Cyprus and be transported to the pier. She noted that the secure area onshore is “pretty close to full,” but emphasized that the intention remains to deliver aid to Gaza through all available means. She stated that the U.S. is engaging in discussions with aid agencies regarding the distribution of food.

However, she added, “Of course, if there’s not enough room in the marshalling yard, then it doesn’t make sense to put our men or women out there when there’s nothing to do.”

Palestinians are facing widespread hunger due to the nearly nine-month Israel-Hamas war, Israeli restrictions on border crossings, which are significantly more productive than the sea route, and the attacks on aid convoys. These factors have severely restricted the flow of food, medicine, and other essential supplies.