The pier built by the United States in Gaza collapsed. Here’s how we got here and what might be next

WASHINGTON (AP) — A series of security, logistical and weather problems have hampered a plan to deliver desperately needed humanitarian aid to Gaza through Gaza. Pier built by the US Army.

Broke apart by strong winds and heavy waves just over a week into operation, the project is facing criticism for not living up to its initial billing or commitments. $320 million Card price.

But US officials say the steel bridge is connected to the beach in Gaza and the floating dock It is fixed It will be reassembled at a port in southern Israel, then reinstalled and commissioned again next week.

While early Pentagon estimates indicated the dock could transport up to 150 truckloads of aid per day when fully operational, This has not happened yet. Bad weather conditions hampered progress in bringing aid into Gaza from the dock, instead An Israeli attack on the city of Rafah in the south of the country This has made it difficult, if not impossible at times, to deliver aid to the region via land routes.

Reactions from aid groups were mixed, as they welcomed any amount of aid to the starving Palestinians trapped by the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas for nearly eight months, and denounced the dock as a distraction that eases pressure on Israel to open more border crossings, which are still… Out of sight. More productive.

It’s a “sideshow,” said Bob Kitchen, a senior official at the International Rescue Committee.

The Biden administration has said from the beginning that the dock was never meant to be a complete solution and that any amount of assistance helps.

“Nobody initially said this was going to be a silver bullet for all the humanitarian assistance problems that still exist in Gaza,” National Security spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday. “I think sometimes there’s an expectation from the U.S. military — because they’re so good — that everything they touch will turn to gold in an instant.”

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“We knew going there was going to be difficult,” he added. “And it’s proven to be difficult stuff.”

Before the war, Gaza received about 500 truckloads of aid daily on average. USAID says it needs a steady flow of 600 trucks a day to ease the struggle for food and bring people back from Syria. The brink of starvation.

These photos released by Maxar Technologies show the newly completed pier in the Gaza Strip on May 18, 2024, and the upper and remaining portion of the temporary pier on May 29, 2024. A series of security, logistical and weather problems have hampered the plan to deliver much-needed humanitarian aid to Gaza through a pier established by the US Army. Just over a week into operation, critics complained that the project did not live up to its initial billing or its $320 million price tag. (Satellite images © 2024 Maxar Technologies via AP)

The aid brought in through the dock was enough to feed thousands for a month, but UN data shows it barely made a dent in the overall needs of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million.

Here’s a look at the dock’s timeline, the problems it’s faced, and what might come next:

March: Advertising and preparation

March 7: President Joe Biden announced His plan for the US Army to build a pier during his State of the Union address.

“Tonight, I instructed the US military to lead an emergency mission to establish a temporary pier in the Mediterranean Sea on the coast of Gaza that can receive large shipments carrying food, water, medicine, and temporary shelters,” he said.

But even in those first few moments, he noted that the dock would increase the amount of humanitarian aid reaching Gaza, but Israel must “do its part” and allow more aid in.

March 8: Maj. Gen. Pat Rader, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters that it would take “up to 60 days” to deploy forces and build the project.

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March 12: Four US Army boats carrying tons of equipment and parts of steel piers departed Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia and headed into the Atlantic Ocean on an expected month-long voyage to Gaza.

The brigade commander, Army Colonel Sam Miller, warns that the transportation and construction process will depend heavily on the weather and any high waves encountered.

Late March: US military ships were exposed to high seas and rough weather while crossing the Atlantic, slowing their pace.

April: Building and hope

April 1: seven Help workers in the global central kitchen They were killed in an Israeli airstrike while traveling in clearly marked vehicles on an Israeli-sanctioned delivery mission.

The strike fuels ongoing concerns about the security of aid workers and prompts relief agencies to halt the delivery of humanitarian aid in Gaza.

April 19: US officials confirmed that the UN World Food Program had agreed to help deliver aid to Gaza via the sea route once construction work was completed.

April 25: Major construction work begins on the port facility located on the beach near Gaza City. The land site is where aid will be delivered from the bridge and provided to relief agencies.

April 30: Satellite images showed the US Navy ship USNS Roy P. Benavidez and Army ships working to assemble the pier and bridge about 11 kilometers (6.8 mi) offshore.

May: The dock opens…then closes

May 9: The USS Sagamore is the first ship carrying aid to leave Cyprus and head towards Gaza and eventually to the dock. An advanced security and inspection station has been built in Cyprus to examine aid coming from a number of countries.

May 16: Target time of 60 days exceeded, Construction and assembly of the sidewalk Off the coast of Gaza, the bridge connecting to the beach was completed after more than a week of weather conditions and other delays.

May 17: The first trucks carrying aid For the Gaza Strip, it is transported via the newly built pier to the secure area on the beach, where it will be unloaded and the shipment distributed to relief agencies for delivery by truck to Gaza.

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May 18: Crowds of desperate Palestinians overran a convoy of aid trucks arriving from the pier, stripping the load of 11 of the 16 vehicles before it reached a UN warehouse for distribution.

May 19-20: First curbside food A limited number of highly nutritious biscuits reach people in need in central Gaza, according to the World Food Programme.

Aid organizations are suspending curbside deliveries for two days while the United States works with Israel to open alternative land routes from the dock and improve security.

May 24: So far, just over 1,000 metric tons of aid has been delivered to Gaza via the US-built dock, and USAID later says all of this aid has been distributed inside Gaza.

May 25: High winds and heavy waves damaged the pier and caused four U.S. Army ships operating there to wash ashore, injuring three service members, including one in critical condition.

Two ships ran aground in Gaza near the base of the pier and two ships ran aground near Ashkelon in Israel.

May 28: Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said that large parts of the bridge had been pulled from the beach and taken to an Israeli port for repair. The base of the bridge remains at the Gaza shore.

It also says that aid is being loaded in Cyprus onto ships and will be ready to be unloaded at the dock once it is back in place.

May 29: Two army ships that ran aground due to bad weather have now returned to sea and the other two ships have been freed near the pier with the help of the Israeli Navy.

What then?

In the coming days, the bridge parts will be put back together, and by the middle of next week it will be transported back to Gaza Beach, where the bridge will once again be connected to the beach, the Pentagon says.

“When we are able to reinstall the pier again, you will be able to see aid flowing more or less continuously,” Singh said on Tuesday. “We will continue to operate this temporary dock for as long as possible.”

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AP writer Ellen Knickmeier in Washington contributed.

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