US set to wind down Gaza pier operations

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan says US ‘will wind down pier operations’ in ‘relatively short order’.

A truck carries humanitarian aid across Trident Pier, a temporary pier to deliver aid, off the Gaza Strip
A truck carries humanitarian aid across Trident Pier, a temporary pier to deliver aid, off the Gaza Strip [File: Amir Cohen/Reuters]

The United States has said it will soon end operations from its pier designed to increase the flow of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip amid Israel’s continuing war.

The $230m pier has repeatedly been detached from the shore because of weather conditions since its initial installation in mid-May, and the project also faced problems with the distribution of assistance due to conditions onshore.

“I do anticipate that in relatively short order, we will wind down pier operations,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told journalists on Thursday.

Pentagon spokesman Major-General Pat Ryder said in a statement that “the pier will soon cease operations, with more details on that process and timing available in the coming days”.

A United Nations report says 96 percent of Gaza’s population is food insecure, and one in five Palestinians, or about 495,000 people, face starvation amid Israel’s nine-month war on the territory.

While the pier has brought in 8,100 metric tonnes of aid to a marshalling area on Gaza’s shore since it started operating in May, the 370m (1,200-foot) floating pier has had to be removed multiple times because of bad weather.

Sullivan said the pier helped bring urgently needed food and other aid to Gaza, but additional supplies are now coming into the Palestinian enclave via land routes.

“The real issue right now is not about getting aid into Gaza. It’s about getting aid around Gaza effectively,” he told reporters.

A satellite image shows an overview of trident pier, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, on the Gaza shoreline, May 18, 2024. Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT. MUST NOT OBSCURE LOGO
A satellite image shows an overview of the Trident Pier in Gaza [File: Maxar Technologies/Handout via Reuters]

Military personnel attempted to re-anchor the temporary Gaza pier to the beach on Wednesday after technical and weather-related issues, but were unable to do so.

The project has also been hampered by security threats that prompted aid agencies to halt distribution of the food and other supplies into Gaza.

The aid groups have said that while any amount of food for Gaza is welcome, many have criticised the project as a costly distraction, saying the US should concentrate on pressuring Israel to allow more aid through land borders, which have long been considered the most productive option.

The UN suspended all World Food Programme (WFP) deliveries from the pier after a June 8 Israeli military raid that secured the release of four Israeli hostages but killed hundreds of Palestinians, citing concerns that troops used an area near there for flying out the rescued hostages by helicopter.

Aid flowing through the pier then began piling up in the secure area on the beach, but the WFP eventually hired contractors to move it into storage areas for further distribution. The US Defense Department said this week that a significant amount of the aid had been cleared out.

Source: News Agencies