U.S. Pier for Gaza Aid Damaged by Rough Seas

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The temporary pier that the U.S. military constructed and put in place to provide much-needed humanitarian aid for Gaza has broken apart in rough seas, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

The latest calamity to befall the pier endeavor punctuated a particularly grim several days in Gaza, where Israeli forces have ramped up attacks on the city of Rafah just two days after carrying out a deadly strike that killed dozens of people.

“Unfortunately, we had a perfect storm of high sea states, and then, as I mentioned, this North African weather system also came in at the same time, creating not an optimal environment to operate,” Sabrina Singh, the Pentagon deputy press secretary, said at a news conference.

Army engineers are working to put the pier back together and Defense Department officials hope that it “will be fully operational in just a little over a week,” she said.

In early March, President Biden surprised the Pentagon by announcing that the U.S. military would build a pier for Gaza. Defense officials immediately predicted that there would be logistical and security issues.

In the days after the pier became operational on May 17, trucks were looted as they made their way to a warehouse, forcing the U.N. World Food Program to suspend operations. After officials beefed up security, the weather turned bad. American officials had been hoping that the sea surges would not start until later in the summer.

On Saturday, heavy seas forced two small American military vessels that were part of the pier operation to beach in Israel. On Sunday, part of the pier broke off completely, including a wider parking area for dropping off supplies transported by ship, officials said. That part will have to be reconnected.

The pier is now being removed from the coast of Gaza to be repaired after getting damaged in the rough seas, Ms. Singh said. Over the next two days, it will be pulled out and taken to Ashdod, in southern Israel, for repairs.

She said that the fact that the pier, which cost $320 million, was able to get 1,000 metric tons of aid into Gaza before it broke apart demonstrates that it can work.

White House policy does not allow U.S. troops on the ground in Gaza, so the Pentagon was able to start but not finish the mission.

And as the pier project struggles, the situation in Gaza remains dire. Even before Sunday’s deadly Israeli strikes, more than 34,000 people had died and more than 77,000 people had been wounded, according to health officials in the territory.



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