Gaza aid pier could be dismantled – NYT

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The floating pier built by the US to bring more humanitarian aid into Gaza amid the Israel-Hamas war could be dismantled earlier than planned, the New York Times has reported, citing aid organizations. 

According to the newspaper, the $230 million structure could be taken down in early July. The administration of US President Joe Biden initially predicted that it would be September before surging seas would make the pier inoperable.

The floating dock has only been in service for about ten days in total since it was inaugurated in mid-May due to weather damage, stormy seas, and security concerns. Aid organizations say the project has largely failed in its mission.

The pier “is not working, at least not for Palestinians,” Stephen Semler, co-founder of the Security Policy Reform Institute, wrote in an essay cited by the outlet. Semler reportedly argued that the pier had succeeded only in providing “humanitarian cover” for the Biden administration’s policy of supporting Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

Aid started arriving into Gaza via the pier on May 17, with the US saying it had transported 137 trucks of aid to warehouses before it was announced on May 28 that operations on the floating dock were suspended for repairs.

US officials had repeatedly stated that the pier was never meant to be more than a stopgap measure and was just an additional way to help get more aid into Gaza amid the war.

Distribution of food to the Palestinian enclave via the sea route was suspended again last Friday when the US military said it would temporarily move the pier to keep it from being damaged by high seas. “The safety of our service members is a top priority and temporarily relocating the pier will prevent structural damage caused by the heightened sea state,” the US Central Command (CENTCOM) stated in a social media post. About 1,000 US service members operate the pier.

The UN World Food Program, which works with the US to bring aid from the pier to warehouses in Gaza, suspended cooperation earlier this month for a “security review” amid concerns for its staff and allegations that the pier could have been used by the IDF during the Nuseirat hostage rescue operation early this month, which killed 270 Palestinians. The Pentagon quickly denied that the aid pier was used in the operation.

The UN has insisted that aid deliveries by land are the “most viable, effective, and efficient” way to combat the humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave of 2.3 million people. At least 500 trucks a day are needed to enter Gaza, it said.

Israel declared war on Hamas after its militants raided southern Israeli settlements on October 7, leaving some 1,200 people dead and taking more than 200 hostages. Over 37,000 Palestinians have been killed in the ensuing seven months of fighting, according to the local Hamas-run health authorities.