Home News As aid programs struggle, U.S. military faces reality in Gaza

As aid programs struggle, U.S. military faces reality in Gaza

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In the week since the U.S. military and allies began building a makeshift pier on the Gaza shoreline, Pentagon planners have faced what critics warned would be a logistical nightmare for the effort.

The U.S. Department of Defense predicts a steady stream of humanitarian aid will be arriving through the terminals in Gaza, but officials acknowledged this week that Palestinians in the besieged strip have received almost no aid. The U.N. World Food Program said several trucks were robbed on their way to warehouses, and the complexities of operating a terminal project in a war zone continued to slow the distribution of supplies.

As expected, problems arose at the back end of the operation. Officials said looting of aid trucks continued and forced the World Food Program to suspend operations for two days. UNRWA, the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency, on Tuesday suspended food distribution in Rafah, citing a lack of security. It added that it had not received any medical supplies for 10 days due to closures and disruptions at the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings.

The project has long been considered difficult. First, White House policy does not allow U.S. troops to be stationed in the Gaza Strip. As a result, the Pentagon has the ability to start but not finish the mission, a situation one military analyst likened to a car with an engine but no wheels.

As work on the dock progresses with difficulty, the situation in Gaza is becoming increasingly dire. According to the region’s health department, more than 34,000 people have died and more than 77,000 have been injured. The Israeli casualties are only expected to rise. Expanding operations in RafahLocated in southern Gaza.

Karim Khanchief prosecutor of the international criminal court Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant accused Israel on Monday of “using starvation as a method of warfare, including by denying humanitarian aid, and deliberately targeting civilians in the conflict.” The Israelis have strongly denied the charges.

But aid groups say many Gazans are experiencing massive hunger. Palestinians have forcibly snatched aid from trucks, which U.N. officials say reflects the desperation of people trying to feed themselves and their families. Aid groups and the United Nations have also blamed the hunger crisis on black marketeers, who seize supplies and sell them at inflated prices.

This is extremely Difficulty in allocating aid UNRWA and U.S. officials said there was no police escort to protect the convoy from large crowds.

The terminal project is an attempt by the Biden administration to alleviate some of the humanitarian suffering in Gaza. Pentagon spokesman Maj. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder described the process Tuesday as a “crawl-walk-run approach.”

President Biden Announce the project In his State of the Union address in March, he warned that Gaza was on the brink of famine. The Pentagon built and assembled the dock next to a warship off the coast, with about 1,000 U.S. troops involved, U.S. officials said. It is connected to central Gaza. Emergency trucks began arriving Friday.

But the operation has so far failed to meet its goal of bringing in 90 trucks a day, eventually increasing to 150. The WFP said 10 trucks entered the warehouse on Friday, but on Saturday, 11 of the 16 trucks were looted. The operation was suspended for two days. On Tuesday, 17 trucks arrived, and on Wednesday, 27.

The Pentagon calls the program JLOTS, or Joint Logistics Support Ashore, and it has been used in humanitarian relief operations in Somalia, Kuwait and Haiti.

Military officials involved in the effort say getting humanitarian aid to people in need is more difficult than building infrastructure.

“It’s one thing to build the docks and get supplies onto the docks and onto the shore,” Rabbi Tobey, president of the aid group Project Hope, said in an interview. “It’s another thing to put the logistics in place to get aid to where it’s needed most, which is why there’s a lack of planning and coordination.”

Retired Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton in Somalia in 1993, when the U.S. military built a terminal to deliver humanitarian aid to civilians caught up in the war. Four light infantry battalions, totaling 2,000 soldiers, were on the ground helping deliver the aid, Gen. Eaton said in an interview.

“The ships that are bringing humanitarian aid will be delivered to ports that we absolutely control and then loaded onto trucks,” he said. “And then we put armed forces — American armed forces — inside the vehicles to protect the drivers.”

“The supplies arrive in a protected environment, are loaded in a protected environment and transported to the end-use location in a protected environment,” he added.

But nothing like this happened in Gaza.

The World Food Program warned on Tuesday that the terminal project could fail if Israel does not do more to ensure the safe distribution of aid. The agency suspended supplies from the docks after an aid truck was robbed and a Palestinian man was killed.

While some food and goods have entered Gaza in recent days, few in the war-torn enclave can afford them after months of fighting without a regular income. The cash crisis has increased the importance of providing aid to poor Gazans.

World Food Program spokesman Abir Etfa said the key to breaking the aid impasse was getting permission from Israel to send supplies via alternative routes. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Israel opened a new route and the convoy reached its destination safely, she said.

The initial failure of the terminal project heightened criticism from some diplomats who argued that the plan was too costly and inefficient.

Pentagon officials privately complained that the Biden administration had little consultation with the military when proposing the terminal project, which the military would have to build and operate in the Mediterranean. Defense officials are scrambling to implement the plan, which they estimate will take two months to complete.

Aid groups say that even if all the issues are addressed, sea transport is still less efficient than land transport. Even if the project achieves its goal of delivering 150 trucks a day, the food and other supplies it delivers will still not meet what aid groups say are the needs of the war-torn population.

Aid workers described transport bottlenecks at border crossings caused by long inspections of trucks, limited operating hours and protests by Israelis. Israeli officials deny they are impeding the flow of aid and blame the United Nations for creating the backlog.

“There are no established processes and structures for delivering assistance in Gaza,” said Gen. Joseph Votel, former commander of U.S. Central Command.

“This is the responsibility of the international aid community and the Israel Defense Forces,” he said, referring to the Israel Defense Forces. “This is still very much a war zone.”

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