CENTCOM Moves Gaza Pier and Halts Aid Deliveries

The makeshift pier has already encountered a series of problems and delays since it was constructed last month

The US military said it would temporarily relocate its portable pier used to assist aid shipments into Gaza, noting it would be moved to Ashdod, Israel, during the present bout of rough weather. The decision comes after the United Nations paused its work with the pier due to security concerns linked to a recent Israeli commando raid.

US Central Command announced the move in a press release on Friday, stating that relocating the pier would “prevent structural damage caused by the heightened sea state” and ensure future aid deliveries. It added that the pier would be “rapidly re-anchored” along the Gaza coast as soon as possible, but offered no timeline for when that might occur.

According to Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh, aid destined for Gaza will be held in a staging area on shore while the pier is moved.

The decision was likely prompted after poor weather caused at least $22 million in damage to the floating pier earlier this month, forcing the military to tow the structure to Ashdod for repairs. The pier is reportedly not capable of taking on waves larger than two feet.

The latest CENTCOM announcement came days after the UN’s World Food Program (WFP) said it would pause all operations involving the US-supplied pier to conduct a security review, citing a June 8 Israeli military raid in the area which left more than 270 Palestinians dead. The assault successfully freed four hostages held by Hamas but saw IDF troops depart by helicopter from a site near the makeshift pier. Tel Aviv and Washington insist that the pier played no role in the raid, but the incident nonetheless stoked concerns about the security and neutrality of the aid effort.

“You can be damn sure we are going to be very careful about what we assess and what we conclude,” UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said of the WFP security review. He added that if the agency found that Israel had used the beach or roads around the pier improperly, it would “put at risk any future humanitarian engagement in that operation.”

A UN spokesman clarified earlier on Friday that the WFP was still unable to resume its activities with the pier, saying the org was “still working to ensure that secure conditions for humanitarian work can be re-established.”

With virtually all major aid corridors into Gaza either closed or under heavy Israeli restrictions, food supplies in the territory have dropped to dangerous levels. On Friday, WFP deputy director Carl Skau warned that the situation in southern Gaza had become especially dire, as IDF troops press on with a major attack on the city of Rafah – home to some 1.2 million Palestinian refugees.

Will Porter is assistant news editor at the Libertarian Institute and a regular contributor at Antiwar.com. Find more of his work at Consortium News and ZeroHedge.