Wind, rough seas again force US to temporarily relocate Gaza aid pier

The U.S. military once again is pausing operations on its temporary floating pier off the coast of Gaza as wind and rough seas are expected in the coming days.

The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) announced Friday that the temporary pier will be removed from its anchored position in Gaza and towed back to Ashdod, Israel for the safety of its service members as high seas may cause structural damage.

“The decision to temporarily relocate the pier is not made lightly but is necessary to ensure the temporary pier can continue to deliver aid in the future,” CENTCOM said in a statement. “After the period expected high seas, the pier will be rapidly re-anchored to the coast of Gaza and resume delivering humanitarian aid to Gaza.”

While the U.S. and humanitarian aid organizations have pledged to aid the starving Palestinian civilians, there have been numerous setbacks in trying to get the aid delivered.

President Biden announced the floating pier in his State of the Union address in March. It was completed just over two months later and the first shipment was driven across in mid-May.

U.S. officials acknowledged that the first few days of the pier’s operation failed to reach the scale of supplies they had hope to deliver. Humanitarian groups have cited enormous challenges providing assistance while navigating Israel’s military operations.

Among the issues with the pier, three U.S. soldiers were injured while assigned to the pier mission and two U.S. ships towing the pier broke away and were beached in the sand off of Israel’s coast.

Days later, logistical, security and weather issues broke the pier off from Gaza’s coast. Officials said they were moving with “a sense of urgency” to rebuild and reconnect the pier.

The damaged section of the pier, and the beached ships, were being repaired in Ashdod by American service members last week.

The United Nations said last week that it would be pausing its humanitarian aid delivery efforts after an Israeli rescue mission of four hostages killed over 200 Palestinian civilians.

In its statement Friday, CENTCOM said since May 17, more than 3,500 metric tons, or 7.7 million pounds, of aid had been delivered through the “maritime corridor for onward delivery” to civilians in Gaza.

Weather and logistics continue to delay the delivery of desperately needed aid, but the U.S. maintains that the floating pier was never meant to be a solution and urged Israel to lift restrictions in the area so deliveries could be made by land.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.