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US military constructs hulking metal pier amid Biden's $320 million gamble to get aid into Gaza

The U.S. military has completed the construction of a hulking metal pier that is expected to be jabbed into a beach in northern Gaza in the coming days, officials said.

Completing the massive makeshift structure — approximately 1,500-ft long or the length of five U.S. football fields — is the first step in the Biden administration’s two-month-long, $320 million gamble to open a sea route to get humanitarian aid through the eastern Mediterranean and into Gaza, where Israel continues to wage war with the Hamas terror group.

The construction of the new floating pier and causeway is risky for President Biden and the Pentagon as aid delivery teams face unknown dangers and uncertainties as they attempt to work around the challenges of getting aid into Gaza through the Rafah border.

“In the coming days, you can expect to see this effort underway. And we are confident that we will be able to, working with our NGO partners, ensure that aid can be delivered,” Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said Tuesday, noting humanitarian groups were ready for the first shipments through the new U.S. maritime route.


Workers on a metal floating pier

In this image provided by the U.S. Army, soldiers assigned to the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) and sailors attached to the MV Roy P. Benavidez assemble the Roll-On, Roll-Off Distribution Facility (RRDF), or floating pier, off the shore of Gaza in the Mediterranean Sea on April 26, 2024.  (U.S. Army via AP)

The administration’s effort to open the additional sea route comes as the intensifying war between Israel and Hamas has neared the land crossings in Rafah.

Scott Paul, an associate director of the Oxfam humanitarian organization, described the sea route as “a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist” because land crossings could bring in all the needed aid, he said.

Paul suggested the amount of aid that is allowed to be delivered into Gaza is dependent on Israeli officials allowing it. Some officials have expressed concerns the aid could fall into the hands of Hamas, the very terrorists that Israel is seeking to eliminate from the Palestinian territory.


“Like all of the land crossings, it comes down to the consent of the government of Israel,” Paul said. “If Israel is comfortable with allowing the maritime corridor to function … then it will work in a limited way. And if they don’t, it won’t. Which is why it’s a very, very expensive alternative.”

A photo of the floating pier

The pier is part of the Army’s Joint Logistics Over The Shore (JLOTS) system which provides critical bridging and water access capabilities. (U.S. Army via AP)

Ophir Falk, foreign policy adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Tuesday that the country had enabled the entrance of thousands of aid trucks into Gaza and would continue to do so.

Falk accused Hamas of disrupting aid distribution by hijacking and attacking convoys.

The Israeli military said in a statement Tuesday that it will keep acting in line with international law to distribute aid to Gaza. It also has previously said there are no limits on aid.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to Biden to allow in more aid and safeguard those workers.

Trucks carrying aid and supplies

U.S.-military-backed construction crews in the eastern Mediterranean created a hulking metal dock, completing the first part of the Biden administration’s $320 million effort to open a sea route to get humanitarian aid into Gaza. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Anastasia Moran, an associate director for the International Rescue Committee, a global humanitarian group, said truckloads of aid entering Gaza increased by 13% last month.

The Israel-Hamas war has been particularly lethal to Palestinian civilians residing in Gaza with Palestinian health officials estimating more than 35,000 have been killed. Israeli officials estimate the number of deceased civilians is approximately 16,000 civilians. A U.N report from May 8 found the number of women and children killed so far in the war to be just under 13,000.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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