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US Slated to Suspend Gaza Pier Operation for Fourth Time in One Month

The pier has only been operational for 10 of the 28 days since it was built.

U.S. soldiers stand on the pier as the USAV SP4 James A. Loux casts off from Joint Base Langley-Eustis during a media preview of the 7th Transportation Brigade deployment in Hampton, Virginia, on March 12, 2024.

For the fourth time in less than a month, U.S. military officials are expected to suspend aid shipments through their pier off Gaza’s coast, as the U.S. continues to allow Israel to carry out its near-total blockade of humanitarian aid and famine campaign.

U.S. forces are expected to dismantle the pier on Friday and transport it back to Israel, CNN reports, due to forecasts of heavy seas over the next days. It’s unclear how long the pier will be inoperational, and it is expected to be reconnected when conditions allow.

This marks the fourth time the pier has been rendered inoperational since it was initially connected on May 17. Just two days after it was built, shipments were suspended after only 15 aid trucks entered, due to logistical issues with delivering the aid to humanitarian groups’ warehouses. On May 21, when shipments resumed, the Pentagon admitted that none of the little aid that had come through the pier at that point had been distributed to Palestinians through aid groups.

The U.S. was planning new aid routes when, a week after the pier was first built, the military stopped shipments once again, as heavy seas unmoored U.S. army vessels that officials say are there to support the pier, and the ships were beached. In the following days, parts of the pier disconnected until the pier was broken apart, around May 29.

Last Friday, the pier was reassembled and reconnected, and aid shipments resumed on June 8. They were stopped again a day later for two days, due to high seas.

In all, the pier has been inoperational for longer than it has been in operation. The pier has only been operational for 10 of the 28 days since it was built, including Friday.

The continual failure of the pier — which cost $320 million to build and has already picked up tens of million of dollars in damage — lends credence to the heavy criticisms of the pier levied by Palestinians and humanitarian groups.

Before it was built, groups had pointed out that the pier is the least efficient way for aid to enter the region, with land deliveries being far more time- and cost-saving — and a permanent ceasefire and pressure on Israel to end its aid blockade being the best way to allow sufficient aid to enter Gaza. Palestinians and some aid groups have also raised alarm that the U.S. military presence surrounding the pier is a way to obfuscate the presence of U.S. troops on the ground in Gaza.

Many critics said that the pier, which U.S. officials announced in response to international outrage over Israel’s killing of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers in April, is nothing more than a public relations move by a country that is participating in Israel’s genocide in Gaza. Indeed, U.S. officials have refused to publicly acknowledge that Israel’s intensifying, months-long aid blockade has pushed large swaths of Gaza into a man-made famine, as the Biden administration continues to give strong military and diplomatic support to the genocide.

At the same time, however, U.S. officials have made public statements calling for humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza. At a conference in Jordan on the Gaza massacre on Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on fellow attendees to “give more aid” to Gaza humanitarian efforts and cynically said that there is a “shortfall” in funding — without noting that the shortage of funds is driven in large part by the U.S. because of its funding ban on the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

But officials continue to make gestures as though they are deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis that they are supporting.

The U.S. State Department announced on Friday that it is issuing a sanction against an Israeli group that it accuses of obstructing humanitarian aid convoys bound for Gaza. The department named Tzav 9, a right-wing group, as perpetrators of multiple attacks on aid convoys, including a May 13 attack in which Israeli settlers set fire to and looted two aid trucks in the West Bank that were bound for Gaza.

“The Government of Israel has a responsibility to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian convoys transiting Israel and the West Bank enroute to Gaza,” said State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller in a statement on the sanctions.

“We will not tolerate acts of sabotage and violence targeting this essential humanitarian assistance. We will continue to use all tools at our disposal to promote accountability for those who attempt or undertake such heinous acts, and we expect and urge that Israeli authorities do the same,” Miller continued, seeming to suggest that it is the settlers, and not the Israeli authorities, who are primarily responsible for the horror being wrought on Gaza.

Further undermining the idea that the sanction will make a significant impact is that it only targets one Israeli group, while reports have suggested that there are multiple Israeli groups who have collaborated in sabotaging the aid convoys.

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