Biden's Pier in Gaza Has Been a Complete Failure

U.S. Army via AP

It has only been about 3 months since President Biden announced a plan to create a floating pier for emergency aid to Gaza.

During his State of the Union speech on Thursday night, President Joe Biden announced an "emergency" military mission to construct a port in the Mediterranean Sea on Gaza's coast to get humanitarian aid in.

"Iā€™m directing the U.S. military to lead an emergency mission to establish a temporary pier in the Mediterranean on the Gaza coast that can receive large ships carrying food, water, medicine and temporary shelters," Biden said in his address to Congress from the U.S. Capitol

"No U.S. boots will be on the ground," he said. "This temporary pier would enable a massive increase in the amount of humanitarian assistance getting into Gaza every day. But Israel must also do its part."

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It took about 2 months to get the pier in place but almost exactly a month ago the military announced that the pier had been completed and was ready to start delivering food aid from ships to trucks.

The U.S. military finished installing a floating pier for the Gaza Strip on Thursday, with officials poised to begin ferrying badly needed humanitarian aid into the enclave besieged over seven months of intense fighting in the Israel-Hamas war.

The final, overnight construction sets up a complicated delivery process more than two months after U.S. President Joe Biden ordered it to help Palestinians facing starvation as food and other supplies fail to make it in as Israel recently seized the key Rafah border crossing in its push on that southern city on the Egyptian border.

Since then almost nothing about it has gone as planned. Just over a week after the announcement that it was completed, the pier broke apart.

MAY 25: High winds and heavy seas damage the pier and cause four U.S. Army vessels operating there to become beached, injuring three service members, including one who is in critical condition...

MAY 28: Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh says large portions of the causeway are being pulled from the beach and moved to an Israeli port for repairs. The base of the causeway remains at the Gaza shore.

The pier was towed away and repaired and then returned to duty, but it was only a matter of days before rough seas prompted the US military to detach it again to prevent another disaster.

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The US military will temporarily dismantle the humanitarian pier it constructed off the coast of Gaza and move it back to Israel on Friday night, amid concerns that heavy seas could once again break it just days after it resumed aid delivery operations, multiple US officials and US Central Command said.

It will be the second time in a matter of weeks that the fragile pier and causeway system, known as Joint Logistics over the Shore, or JLOTS, has had to be moved back to the Israeli port of Ashdod. It is a pre-emptive safety measure, a US official said, and aid operations across the pier will be suspended until sea conditions allow for it to be moved back into place.

In a word, the pier has been a failure, though one should probably add it was a very expensive failure.

The $230 million temporary pier that the U.S. military built on short notice to rush humanitarian aid to Gaza has largely failed in its mission, aid organizations say, and will probably end operations weeks earlier than originally expected.

In the month since it was attached to the shoreline, the pier has been in service only about 10 days. The rest of the time, it was being repaired after rough seas broke it apart, detached to avoid further damage or paused because of security concerns...

The Biden administration initially predicted that it would be September before surging seas would make the pier inoperable. But military officials are now warning aid organizations that the project could be dismantled as early as next month, a looming deadline that officials say they hope will pressure Israel to open more ground routes.

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I'm not sure where the NY Times got the $230 million figure for the cost of all this. An earlier report by the AP put the price tag at $320 million at a minimum.

A U.S. Navy ship and several Army vessels involved in an American-led effort to bring more aid into the besieged Gaza Strip are offshore of the enclave and building out a floating platform for the operation that the Pentagon has said will cost at least $320 million.

Can the actual cost have gone down given the delays, the damage to the pier when it broke apart and the grounding of the four US vessels. I don't see how that's possible. But whatever the case, we've gotten about 10 days of service out of the pier so far and even on the days it has been useful, the aid delivered didn't make it to ordinary Gazan people. Most of it winds up getting looted.

None of the aid that has been unloaded from the temporary pier the US constructed off the coast of Gaza has been delivered to the broader Palestinian population, as the US works with the UN and Israel to identify safe delivery routes inside the enclave, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

Several desperate Gazans intercepted trucks delivering aid from the pier over the weekend, leading the UN to suspend the delivery operations until the logistical challenges are resolved.

Calling this a failure is being pretty generous at this point. It is an epic failure and embarrassment for the Biden administration and, unfortunately, for the United States. As one reader put it in the comments, "What a colossally ridiculous waste of taxpayer money."

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