update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

US Army vessels break loose from Gaza pier, end up in Ashdod

The Israeli Navy is helping to retrieve the ships beached near the coastal city.

U.S. military personnel at a U.S. Army vessel that washed up on the beach in Ashdod, May 25, 2024. Photo by Liron Moldovan/Flash90.
U.S. military personnel at a U.S. Army vessel that washed up on the beach in Ashdod, May 25, 2024. Photo by Liron Moldovan/Flash90.

Four U.S. Army vessels broke away from the recently installed floating pier off the Gaza coast in “heavy seas” on Saturday, with two of the ships drifting northward and beaching on the Israeli coast, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said.

The other two vessels are anchored near the pier on the Gaza beach. Efforts were underway to retrieve the other two vessels from the Ashdod coast, with assistance from the Israeli Navy.

U.S. military personnel and Israelis near a U.S. Army vessel that washed up on the beach in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, May 25, 2024. Photo by Liron Moldovan/Flash90.

CENTCOM also said in a statement that the IDF is supporting the recovery efforts near the pier, stressing that no U.S. military personnel entered Gaza, there were no injuries during the incident and the pier “remains fully functional.”

Close to three-fourths of the humanitarian aid transported from the $320 million floating pier built by the U.S. military was stolen the previous Saturday en route to a U.N. warehouse.

Eleven trucks “were cleaned out by Palestinians” on the journey to the World Food Program warehouse in Deir El Balah in the central Strip, with five truckloads making it to the destination.

“They’ve not seen trucks for a while,” a U.N. official told Reuters. “They just basically mounted on the trucks and helped themselves to some of the food parcels.”

A resident of the Gaza Strip described the looting and anarchy to Israel’s Channel 12 news.

“There is a lot of theft of the aid, we have seen how Gazans take it over—it is no longer just Hamas. There is no one to secure it and in the end it does not reach us. Israel withdrew from a large part of the Gaza Strip and left everything in chaos. Every man for himself and looking after his own interests. It creates anarchy,” the resident said.

“We need to make sure that the necessary security and logistical arrangements are in place before we proceed,” said the U.N. official.

According to Israeli estimates, Hamas has been stealing up to 60% of the aid entering the Gaza Strip, and a Channel 12 report last week revealed that the terrorist organization has made at least $500 million in profit off humanitarian aid since the start of the war on Oct. 7.

The pier was pre-assembled at the Israeli port of Ashdod before being anchored to a beach in the coastal enclave on Thursday. No American troops went ashore during the installation of the pier, according to CENTCOM. Some 1,000 U.S. soldiers and sailors helped build the floating pier.

Of 569 metric tons of humanitarian aid that had been delivered into Gaza via the temporary pier, not a single one was distributed to Gazans in need, U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, admitted during a press conference on May 21.

CENTCOM on Saturday provided updated numbers on the amount of aid delivered via the pier, including 1,005 metric tons (1,108 short tons) total as of May 24 from the sea to the beach transfer point and 903 metric tons (995 short tons) total as of May 24 distributed from the beach transfer point to the U.N. warehouse.

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