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The American pier in Gaza, from setback to setback

Photo: Agence France-Presse A child plays on a beach as a ship carrying international humanitarian aid docks at the US-built pier near Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on May 21.

W.G. Dunlop – Agence France-Presse in Washington

Published on June 21

  • Middle East

The pier built in May in Gaza by the United States was intended to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to this Palestinian territory besieged by Israel. But since its installation a month ago, it has gone from one setback to another.

More than 4,100 tonnes of aid have been transported so far in the strip from Gaza via this pier which cost $230 million, far from the “massive increase” in deliveries promised by Joe Biden.

Israel's first military support, Washington installed this pier in the face of severe restrictions imposed by Israel on the land delivery of aid to the Palestinian territory, ravaged by eight months of war.

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“The Gaza pier, unfortunately, represents nothing more than an extremely expensive diversion from what is truly necessary, but also legally required,” says Michelle Strucke, director of humanitarian affairs at the Circle of Washington CSIS reflection.

That is, “secure and unimpeded humanitarian access for humanitarian organizations to provide assistance to a population in Gaza that is experiencing historic levels of deprivation,” she says.

The United States and other countries have air-dropped aid shipments as well, but these, along with pier deliveries, “were never intended to be a substitute for access to scale and sustainability via land crossing points,” said Michelle Strucke.

According to her, by focusing on this pier and these airdrops, the United States “has wastes time and energy for decision makers, and more than $200 million for American taxpayers.”

Terrible weather

Joe Biden announced in March the establishment of this pier by American troops working off the coast of Gaza. Construction was completed in early May, but weather conditions meant that it was not put into service until May 17.

A week later, the swell caused four American vessels participating in the operation to break loose. The pier was then damaged three days later by terrible weather conditions and had to be transported to the Israeli port of Ashdod for repairs.

Reopened on June 7, it was transported back to Ashdod on the 14th because of the swell. Aid deliveries finally resumed overnight Wednesday into Thursday, the Pentagon announced.

Raphael Cohen, a political scientist at the American research organization RAND, believes that “the jetty project has not yet produced the results expected by the Biden administration.”

“Beyond the weather issues, it has proven to be quite expensive and has not solved the operational challenges of delivering aid into Gaza,” he explains.

Despite these problems, the pier provides another crossing point for aid deliveries and allows its delivery even when land crossings are closed, says Raphael Cohen.

Suspension

But the American operation faces other difficulties, notably with the announcement on June 10 by the World Food Program of the suspension of its aid deliveries via the pier, “until an assessment of the security conditions” for its staff is carried out.

Questioned then on the reasons for this interruption, the spokesperson for the UN Secretary General had mentioned the Israeli operation two days earlier which had freed four hostages in Gaza, and which according to the Hamas Ministry of Health left more than 270 dead.

Ten days after this suspension, WFP deliveries have still not resumed.

The UN assured that all projects aimed at increasing the arrival of aid in Gaza were welcome, but that the most important thing was to allow delivery by road.

< p>For CSIS’s Michelle Strucke, “Gazans don’t need any semblance of help; they need real help to reach them.”

Washington should “be careful not to support measures that look good on paper,” but which ultimately “do not result in significant aid reaching the Palestinians,” she argues.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116