U.S. Military Reconstructs Gaza Pier, Aid to Resume

A pier designed by the military to transport essential aid into Gaza by ship has been reconnected to the beach in the besieged area after it broke apart during storms and rough seas. Food and other supplies will soon start flowing in, the U.S. Central Command announced Friday.

The part that connects to the beach in Gaza, the causeway, has been rebuilt almost two weeks after a heavy storm damaged it and abruptly stopped what had already been a challenging delivery route.

“This morning in Gaza, U.S. forces successfully attached the temporary pier to the Gaza beach,” Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, U.S. Central Command deputy commander, told reporters over the phone on Friday. “We intend to resume delivering humanitarian aid from the sea in the upcoming days.”

Cooper stated that operations at the reconnected pier will soon be ramped up, aiming to move 1 million pounds of food and other supplies through the pier into Gaza every two days.

A large part of the causeway broke on May 25 when the area was hit by strong winds and high seas. Four Army vessels operating in the area went aground, injuring three service members, one of whom remains in critical condition. The damage was the latest obstacle in what has been a continuous struggle to provide food to starving Palestinians during the nearly 8-month-long Israel-Hamas war.

Bad weather had earlier slowed the delivery of pier sections and U.S. military personnel from Virginia to the region. And early efforts to deliver aid from the pier into Gaza were interrupted as residents stormed the trucks aid agencies were using to transport the food to warehouses for distribution.

For a limited time, the sea route had been an additional method to help get more aid into Gaza because the Israeli offensive in the southern city of Rafah had made using the land routes, which were far more effective, difficult, if not impossible at times. President Joe Biden’s administration has stated from the beginning that the pier was not intended to be the only solution and that any amount of aid was helpful.

Due to storm damage to the causeway, substantial portions were removed and brought to the Israeli port for repairs.

Two of the U.S. Army boats ran aground near Ashkelon, however those have been freed. The other two beached onto the Gaza shoreline. Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh stated that these two took on significant water and sand and that the Israeli Navy had been assisting with the repairs.

Biden, a Democrat, announced his plan for the military to construct a pier during his State of the Union address in early March. The military stated that it would take about 60 days for it to be built and operational. The initial estimated cost was $320 million, but Singh stated earlier this week that the cost had been reduced to $230 million thanks to contributions from Britain and lower-than-anticipated costs for contracting trucks and other equipment.

Installation took slightly longer than the intended two months, with the first trucks carrying aid for the Gaza Strip rolling down the pier on May 17. Just one day later, as a convoy of trucks entered Gaza, crowds overran it, removing the cargo from 11 of the 16 vehicles before they arrived at a U.N. warehouse.

The next day, as officials changed the convoys’ travel routes, aid eventually began reaching people in need. Before the causeway collapsed in the storm, Pentagon officials said that more than 1,100 tons (1,000 metric tons) of aid had been delivered.