June 17, 2024

Entire initiative becoming an embarrassment with setback after setback

A section of the $320 million floating pier built and erected off Gaza’s coast has broken off and floated onto an Israeli beach. The Saturday mishap is the latest setback for the US humanitarian aid project, after three US troops were reported injured aboard the pier two days prior, including one critically.

The Times of Isreal’s military correspondent Emanuel Fabian has reported that “An American vessel used to unload humanitarian aid from ships into the Gaza Strip via a floating pier disconnected from a small boat tugging it this morning due to stormy seas, leading it to get stuck on the coast of Ashdod, eyewitnesses say.”

Joe had a pier installed at Gaza

$320 million of your dollars

pic.twitter.com/CBakneazlI

— Phil Holloway ✈️ (@PhilHollowayEsq) May 25, 2024

The recovery operation has not gone well either, as “Another ship was then sent to try and extract the stuck vessel, but also got beached,” Fabian writes.

And yet a second US Army vessel also got stuck in shallow waters while trying to rescue the pier section. Overnight US ships had been moving two pieces of the floating pier to the Port of Ashdod in southern Israel when the now beached section detached and drifted away. American troops can be seen in footage standing helplessly on the beach.

An official US Central Command (CENTCOM) statement says the following:

This morning four U.S. Army vessels supporting the maritime humanitarian aid mission in Gaza were affected by heavy sea states. The vessels broke free from their moorings and two vessels are now anchored on the beach near the pier.

The third and fourth vessels are beached on the coast of Israel near Ashkelon. Efforts to recover the vessels are under way with assistance from the Israeli Navy.

The pier operation was already last week off to a rough start — and was paused for two days — after desperate Palestinians mobbed and ransacked the first trucks transporting aid unloaded from the pier before they could reach a distribution warehouse managed by the World Food Programme.   

The pier has been center of controversy, given a number of land routes for aid into Gaza are possible, but have been blocked by Israel’s military.

Now, to mitigate that devastation amid reports of famine the US government has spent $320 million to build a pier to bypass its own beneficiary’s land-route blockade. But operating it has proven tricky especially due to inclement conditions in the eastern Mediterranean

At best, the pier will only put a dent in the daunting humanitarian challenge. “I just want to be clear that this humanitarian maritime corridor alone is not enough to meet the staggering needs in Gaza, but it is an important addition,” said USAID Levant response management team director Daniel Dieckhaus. “It is meant to augment, not replace or substitute for land crossings into Gaza.”    

Two US Navy ships ran aground on a beach in Ashdod. The tug boat was transporting the floating pier off of Gaza back to the port of Ashdod due to poor sea conditions when it got disconnected & beached here. LCM went in for rescue and also got beached pic.twitter.com/B6HU1B9nfa

— Jeremy Diamond (@JDiamond1) May 25, 2024

At this point, with a section of the pier stuck on an Israel beach, and coming over two months after President Biden first unveiled the ambitious project, the whole initiative is becoming a bit of an embarrassment involving setback after setback.

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