Home News US Gaza aid terminal malfunctions, may be dismantled early

US Gaza aid terminal malfunctions, may be dismantled early

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A $230 million makeshift terminal built by the U.S. military to deliver emergency humanitarian aid to Gaza has largely failed in its mission and could end operations weeks earlier than planned, aid groups say.

The pier was only used for about 10 days in the month after it was connected to the shoreline. The rest of the time, it was either being repaired after being washed away by rough seas, dismantled to avoid further damage, or out of service for safety reasons.

The dock was never intended to be a stopgap measure while the Biden administration pushes Israel to allow more food and other supplies into Gaza by land, a more efficient way to deliver aid. But some U.S. military officials say even the modest goal of building the dock may be unattainable.

When the terminal was first designed, health authorities warned that the region was on the brink of famine. In recent weeks, Israel has allowed aid groups to expand their operations, but they say the situation remains dire.

The Biden administration initially predicted that waves would overwhelm the pier by September, rendering it unusable. But military officials are now warning aid groups that the project could be dismantled as early as next month, and officials say they hope the looming deadline will force Israel to open more ground routes.

President Biden ordered the U.S. military to begin building the pier in March, when he was heavily criticized for not doing more to curb Israel’s military response to the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack.

The first aid shipments began arriving on May 17. Since then, the project has struggled, aid groups say, and many Gazans continue to suffer from severe hunger.

In the latest blow to rescue efforts, the U.S. military said on Friday it would temporarily move the pier to prevent it from being damaged by waves.

The decision “was not taken lightly, but was necessary to ensure the temporary terminal could continue to deliver aid in the future,” U.S. Central Command Posting on social media, the dock would be towed to Israel. Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singer said Monday the dock could be reconnected and aid deliveries could resume later this week.

Stephen Semler, co-founder of the Institute for Security Policy Reform, wrote in an opinion piece that the docks “are not working, at least for the Palestinians.” Responsible statecraft essaya Quincy Institute publication. Mr. Semler believes the docks are simply providing “humanitarian cover” for the Biden administration’s policy of supporting Israel’s bombing of Gaza.

In addition to delivering aid at a time when many land crossings are closed, the terminal highlights the urgent need to get more humanitarian aid to Gaza, U.S. officials say. But the project’s challenges have frustrated and disappointed senior Biden administration officials.

Despite weather-related delays and other problems, there is one bright spot: The pier has not yet been hit.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon denied reports on social media that the pier had been used Israeli raid frees four hostages But this resulted in the deaths of dozens of Palestinians.

In the hours after the rescue operation, videos circulated online showing an Israeli military helicopter taking off from the beach with the U.S. dock in the background.

After the video was released, the U.S. Central Command said in a statement that the terminal and its “equipment, personnel and assets were not used in today’s hostage rescue operation in Gaza.”

U.S. military officials were particularly concerned about a possible attack after reports emerged after the rescue operation that Intelligence provided by the United States Before the operation, the hostages

Last week, Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder condemned “false allegations on social media that the pier was involved in the rescue operation” but said there was “certain helicopter activity of some kind” near the pier during the operation.

Alan Fuller, Project HOPE’s emergency response director, said: “The image of a helicopter taking off from the beach does violate the overall use of humanitarian space.” He also said the photo “confuses the facts” and could put humanitarian workers on the dock at greater risk.

Moreover, as the hostage rescue operation was underway, Central Command had just announced that the pier was operational again after nearly two weeks of repairs, and a day later the World Food Program said it had again suspended aid distribution from the pier due to security concerns.

Biden surprised the Pentagon by announcing the pier during his State of the Union address. Army engineers built and deployed the pier in two months, and about 1,000 U.S. service members are now working on parts of the project.

When Biden announced the program, officials predicted it would help deliver up to 2 million meals a day to Gazans. The Pentagon calls the program JLOTS, or Joint Logistical Sea Transport, and has previously used the capability to provide humanitarian relief to Somalia, Kuwait and Haiti.

Officials said thousands of tons of aid were able to arrive in Gaza during normal operations of the terminal.

Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, deputy commander of Central Command, recently said the problems at the dock were “completely due to unexpected weather.”

Normally, the Gaza coast is calmer in the spring and early summer. “Plan X, and Mother Nature will give you 2X,” said Paul D. Eaton, a retired major general who was in Somalia in 1993 when the U.S. military built a terminal to deliver humanitarian aid to civilians caught up in the war.

Some congressional Republicans have criticized the project for its high costs and possible risks to U.S. troops.

“This irresponsible and expensive experiment defies all logic, except for the obvious political explanation: to appease the president’s far left,” said Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee. Earlier this month.

Aid workers say bottlenecks in the movement of goods at border crossings due to lengthy truck inspections, limited operating hours and Israeli protests have slowed the delivery of food and other supplies.

Israel argues that there is no limit on the amount of aid it allows in. Israel often blames disorganized aid organization and theft by Hamas for its failure to effectively deliver food to the Palestinians.

Central Command said Friday that 3,500 tons of aid had been delivered to shore through the terminal since the operation began on May 17, including about 2,500 tons after the terminal re-anchored and resumed operations on June 8.

But aid groups say much of the aid is not reaching the Palestinians due to logistics, security problems and looting.

Aid workers say only seven truckloads of aid are arriving in Gaza through the port each day, far short of an eventual target of 150 truckloads a day.

“The amounts are minuscule,” said J. Stephen Morrison, director of the Center for Global Health Policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “And the oceans are only going to get choppier.”



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