US Military Initiates Pier Construction off Gaza for Challenging Humanitarian Aid Operation

US Military Initiates Pier Construction off Gaza for Challenging Humanitarian Aid Operation

The construction of a temporary pier by the United States at sea is underway to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza. According to the Pentagon, the objective is to transport up to 150 trucks of aid daily to support the distressed population in the region.

The Pentagon announced on Thursday that the United States has started building a temporary pier at sea to support the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza. The goal is to provide up to 150 trucks of aid per day to the people in need.

According to Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder, US military vessels like the USNS Benavidez have already begun constructing the initial stages of the temporary pier and causeway at sea.

A senior military official confirmed on Thursday that humanitarian assistance will be delivered to Gaza from the sea starting in early May. The initial delivery will be equivalent to 90 trucks per day, with plans to increase to 150 trucks per day once full operational capacity is achieved.

The official stated that the US military is prepared to carry out the mission for several months. However, it was emphasized that there will be no US troops on the ground in Gaza, as President Joe Biden had previously stated. Instead, the Israel Defense Forces will work with the US military to connect the causeway to the shore in Gaza on the first day of operations.

A US Army engineering unit has been training an IDF engineering unit on how to anchor the causeway to the shore in recent weeks. The IDF has also agreed to provide a security perimeter on the ground in Gaza for the offloading of aid over a wide area.

US troops will be operating the system, known as Joint Logistics Over the Shore (JLOTS), several hundred meters away from the Gaza beach. This places them potentially within range of rockets or missiles fired by terror groups from Gaza. Despite an unidentified group firing mortars at the offloading site, the military official stated that the attack was not related to the US' pier mission.

"We have considered all the factors to ensure maximum force protection," the official mentioned. He also noted that the US Navy destroyers stationed in the eastern Mediterranean will support the overall mission effectively.

The humanitarian situation is critical and urgent.

The construction of the pier in Gaza is happening at a time when the humanitarian situation in the area is very serious, according to a senior administration official speaking on Thursday.

The official mentioned that all 2.2 million people in Gaza are experiencing severe food insecurity, with over half of the population in northern Gaza facing extremely critical levels of food insecurity. The official also warned that these numbers could rise significantly if no action is taken.

USAID will collaborate with the UN to distribute the aid in Gaza once it arrives. According to CNN, after negotiations, the Biden administration reached an agreement with the UN World Food Programme to distribute aid from the pier.

The aid will be transported from Cyprus to a floating pier off the coast of Gaza using commercial vessels, as stated by a senior military official.

The aid will be transferred to smaller Army boats, each capable of holding about 15 trucks of aid. These boats will transport the aid to the causeway anchored to the shore. A military official mentioned that trucks from a partner country will then collect the aid and transport it along the approximately 100-meter-long causeway to a secure distribution point near the shore. However, the official did not specify which country is the partner in this operation.

According to the military official, two command and control cells have been established to assist in the delivery of the aid through the pier. The first cell is located in Cyprus and is led by USAID in collaboration with the Cypriot government. Its main objective is to prevent any delays in the inspection process, a concern raised by aid organizations due to previous incidents where aid was held up by the IDF at land crossings into Gaza.

The second cell will be stationed in Israel at Hatzor airbase near Ashdod, under the leadership of an American 3-star general who has been in the country for almost a month. US troops will be staying and resting in either Cyprus, Israel, or on the United Kingdom’s RFA Cardigan Bay at sea.

The US involvement in the mission has been intricate, with the military undertaking a crucial construction project in a conflict zone while diplomats work on coordinating a risky and heavily politicized aid distribution operation.

US officials have informed CNN that the US military will be in charge of the pier for the next three months. The plan is to eventually transform it into a commercial facility that can be utilized by other countries and non-governmental organizations on a full-time basis.

Editor's P/S:

The construction of a temporary sea pier to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza is a commendable effort to address the urgent crisis in the region. The dire humanitarian situation, with millions facing severe food insecurity, demands swift action. However, the absence of US troops on the ground and the reliance on the IDF for security raise concerns about the potential for violence and disruption of aid delivery. It is crucial to ensure the safety of those involved and prevent any escalation of hostilities.

The US military's involvement in this mission highlights the complexity of providing aid in a conflict zone. The coordination between military and diplomatic efforts, as well as the establishment of command and control cells, is necessary to facilitate efficient and timely delivery of aid. The transition of the pier to a commercial facility in the future could provide a more sustainable solution for addressing the humanitarian needs of the Gaza population.