Gaza Pier Delayed Over Rough Seas, Pentagon Calls Project "Extremely Challenging"

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by Tyler Durden
Saturday, May 04, 2024 - 07:45 PM

This week has seen statements and reports indicating the US military constructed humanitarian pier on Gaza's coast is expected to be complete by some point this weekend

But the $320 million project has hit another snag, as the Pentagon has said its soldiers and engineers were forced to "temporarily pause" the offshore assembly of the floating pier due to bad sea conditions in the eastern Mediterranean. So a finish date by this weekend appears unrealistic at this point, based on the Friday announcement.

US Navy personnel construct a ‘Joint Logistics Over-the Shore’ temporary pier. Image: CENTCOM via Reuters

"The partially built pier and military vessels involved in its construction have moved to the Port of Ashdod, where assembly will continue, and will be completed prior to the emplacement of the pier in its intended location when sea states subside," CENTCOM said in a statement. 

So now the US personnel constructing it have moved to Israel. Presumably once the floating pier is completed it will be moved by sea back to the northern Gaza coast in preparation for maritime aid deliveries. 

The pier is expected to allow “the delivery of large quantities of humanitarian aid from ship to shore by truck, with vehicles driving directly off ships and across the temporary pier to a marshaling yard ashore," per the US military statement.

According to more details of what could prove to be cause of more continued pauses and delays:

Defense officials previously hoped that the JLOTS system would be fully built by Friday. But officials told CNN that sea state conditions have been extremely challenging off the coast of Gaza over the last week, impeding the work of the personnel involved in building the pier. One of the key tasks, for example, involves military divers working underneath the pier to ensure all the parts are secured and stable — a difficult and dangerous task when the seas are rough.

The operation of the pier and causeway, which will also require US military personnel to be stationed at sea, will also depend on weather conditions, officials say. 

Meanwhile famine has hit parts of the Gaza Strip, USAID said starting last month. There are also still lingering fears that once complete the pier and personnel working it could come under attack by Palestinian militants.

On Tuesday Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin made a surprise admission for the first time. It came during a hearing of the House Armed Services committee, and specifically when Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida grilled him on whether US servicemen will be placed in harm's way during the construction of the project in Gaza.

Austin answered in the affirmative, and further said that troops erecting the pier will be armed and that they will be authorized to fire back if fired upon. It must be recalled that just last week a visiting delegation of UN officials came under mortar fire from Palestinian militants. Hamas has further warned that any foreign military presence on Gaza soil will come under attack. 

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Below is more from the tense Congressional exchange

Gaetz: This is a very telling moment, Mr. Secretary, because you've said something that's quite possible, that could happen, right? Shots from Gaza on our service members, and then the response our armed service members shooting live fire into Gaza. That is a possible outcome here so that we can become the Port Authority and run this pier. Right?

Austin: That's correct. And I expect that we will always have the ability to protect themselves.

Gaetz: Don't you think that counts as boots on the ground? President Biden told the country that we weren't going to have boots on the ground in Gaza.

Austin: And we won't

Gaetz: Okay, but you guys parse the distinction between... Like when Americans think boots on the ground, they think Americans in harm's way or engaged actively in a conflict. You guys seem to be sort of saying that boots on a pier, connected to the ground, connected to service members shooting into Gaza doesn't count as boots on the ground?

Austin: It does not.

Gaetz: I think you're gonna find the the American people have a different perspective on that. And if we're gonna have people shooting into Gaza, we probably should have a vote on that, pursuant to our war powers.