Keeping up a-pier-ances: Light shed on how Biden’s Gaza-aid scheme was doomed from start

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Construction of the floating JLOTS pier in the Mediterranean is underway in April 2024. (Courtesy U.S. Central Command)

By Jake Smith
Daily Caller News Foundation

The Biden administration made bold promises for its floating aid pier in Gaza, but left out one key detail that some officials are concerned will threaten the entire operation.

The $230 million pier was constructed in May to serve as a channel for aid via the Mediterranean Sea, so that more aid could be delivered to war-torn Gaza in addition to what’s being transported through land crossings. But shipping officials told the Wall Street Journal that means the pier was doomed from the start — as it was never meant to work in the choppy waters of the Mediterranean.

“We know the weather, and we know the rhythm of the waves and the wind at any time of year, and we could have told it was not going to work,” Miki Peleg, general manager of EDT Offshore, a cargo company that was contracted by the U.S. military to help with pier operations, told the WSJ.

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The Mediterranean Sea is often at a sea state level four, meaning that waves are typically between three and five feet, according to military guidance policies cited by the WSJ. The floating aid pier can only be operated at a sea state 3, however, with shorter and more moderate waves — anything higher than that level could threaten the pier’s stability.

Worse, the pier was hastily constructed to begin with — Biden only told the Pentagon of his plan for the pier days before he announced it in March, forcing the U.S. military to scramble to get it assembled, U.S. officials told the WSJ.

The variable state of the Mediterranean has already upset operations since the pier was constructed less than a month ago. A spate of bad weather and high waves in late May broke the pier apart, forcing the U.S. military — which has been tasked with overseeing pier stability — to tow it north and conduct repairs.

The repaired pier was anchored back on the shores of Gaza on Friday, and aid delivery operations restarted the following day. However, operations were halted a day later due to weather conditions, and resumed Tuesday.

“Let’s see how long this lasts,” one defense official told the WSJ shortly after the pier was re-anchored.

Separately, U.S. defense officials expressed concern that the U.S. military would have trouble coordinating with Israeli forces and organizations on the ground in Gaza responsible for facilitating the aid, according to the WSJ. Operational details hadn’t fully been worked out until days before it was constructed — one aid group began delivering to the pier despite having not been approved to do so.

Defense experts and former U.S. officials previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the pier was a “terrible idea” and urged the Biden administration to seek more effective methods to get aid to the Palestinians. The pier only accounts for a fraction of aid delivery to Gaza, with truck convoys through land crossings proving much more effective.

“It was never a sound plan to begin with,” a former CIA official Michael DiMino told the DCNF. “I don’t think that there should be any effort to try to continue this, or salvage it, or fix it.”

The Department of Defense referred the DCNF to the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). CENTCOM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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