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‘Damaged’ Gaza pier to be removed for at least a week for repairs, Pentagon says

“This pier was a massive waste of money that had no value other than virtue signaling to Biden’s base,” according to former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (expeditionary) use a rope to stabilize humanitarian aid while it is lifted by a crane aboard the “MV Roy P. Benavidez” to support the Joint Logistics Over-the-shore (JLOTS) operation, in the Port of Ashdod, Israel, on May 13, 2024. Credit: Staff Sgt. Malcolm Cohens-Ashley/U.S. Army Photo.
U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (expeditionary) use a rope to stabilize humanitarian aid while it is lifted by a crane aboard the “MV Roy P. Benavidez” to support the Joint Logistics Over-the-shore (JLOTS) operation, in the Port of Ashdod, Israel, on May 13, 2024. Credit: Staff Sgt. Malcolm Cohens-Ashley/U.S. Army Photo.

The U.S. Department of Defense announced that it will remove a temporary pier off the Gazan coast for at least a week for repairs, after the top of the T-shaped pier separated and drifted into the coast on Tuesday.

The new setback came after four U.S. army vessels, which are part of the larger Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore operation, ran aground between the Gaza pier and the Israeli city of Ashkelon on Saturday, Sabrina Singh, the deputy Pentagon press secretary, said during a press briefing on Tuesday.

“Earlier today, a portion of the Trident pier separated from the pier that is currently anchored into the coast of Gaza,” Singh said. “The Trident pier was damaged and sections of the pier need rebuilding and repairing.”

In the next two days, “the Trident pier will be removed from its anchored position on the coast and towed back to Ashdod, where U.S. Central Command will conduct repairs,” she added. “The rebuilding and repairing of the pier will take at least over a week and following completion, will need to be re-anchored to the coast of Gaza.”

Singh said that the four vessels would all be recovered within 48 hours with the Israeli navy’s help, but the separation of the top of the T-shaped pier requires more extensive repairs. Despite the ships and part of the pier getting beached, no U.S. troops have gone ashore in Gaza as part of the recovery process, Singh said.

“High sea states” and a North African weather system created a “perfect storm” that caused the groundings, according to Singh.

The pier system, which reportedly cost $320 million, has been beset with problems since it set sail from Norfolk, Va., in March.

Its initial arrival off the Gazan coast was delayed for weeks by weather. After it began operating on May 17, three U.S. soldiers working on the pier sustained non-combat injuries, one of which was critical and required treatment in Israel.

On May 21, a Pentagon spokesman said that he did not believe that any of the then-569 metric tons of aid that had been delivered to Gaza via the pier had been distributed to the people of Gaza. On Thursday, the Pentagon said that two-thirds of the aid had been distributed.

U.S. President Joe Biden announced during his State of the Union address in March that he was setting up a pier to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza. He did so shortly after dozens of Palestinians were killed during a riot that broke out around aid distribution trucks.

Two days later, U.S. airplanes began dropping aid into the Gaza Strip, though U.S. officials have repeatedly said that airdrops and the seaborne aid delivered through the pier are only intended to supplement aid delivered by land.

‘We want to do everything possible to help’

On Tuesday, Singh said that more than 1,000 metric tons of aid were delivered during the pier’s 12 days of operation. She described the mission as “highly valuable” and rejected the idea that it was a failure.

“You better believe that U.S. Central Command forces are going to do everything in their power to make sure that this is back and operational as soon as possible,” Singh said. “This is a mission directive that was set up by the president. We take it very seriously.”

“We want to do everything possible to help,” she added. “It is our forces, it is our men and women who are running towards the problem and trying to do everything they can to find a solution.”

Some Republicans have been deeply critical of the concept and execution of the pier, which they believe to be a waste of time and money. They have also charged that it might put the lives of U.S. troops at risk with little demonstrable benefit to the Palestinians.

“The only reason Biden’s Gaza pier was built was to win votes from the antisemitic left,” wrote Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). “Once again, Biden put politics ahead of the safety of our troops.”

“I don’t relish being right,” wrote David Friedman, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel during the Trump administration and one of the pier’s critics.

“I had hoped it would bring some relief to Gaza,” he added. “But as I said on Day 1, this pier was a massive waste of money that had no value other than virtue signaling to Biden’s base.”

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