080721-N-1424C-256.CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (July 21, 2008) The Army Trident pier approaches Gold Beach during Joint Logistics Over-The-Shore (JLOTS) 2008. JLOTS 2008 is an engineering, logistical training exercise between Army and Navy units under a joint force commander to load and unload ships without the benefit of deep draft-capable, fixed port facilities. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian P. Caracci (Released).

Though it hasn’t even been operational for a full week, the Biden administration’s floating pier to deliver aid to Gaza is already beset with setbacks that point to fundamental issues with the scheme itself.

The newly constructed Joint Logistics Over-The-Shore (JLOTS) pier, with a price tag of $320 million, aims to serve as a vessel to transport humanitarian aid from a floating pier to the shores of Gaza. But just a few days after its launch, delays, security concerns and logistical delays have hampered the pier’s success.

Only two-thirds of the aid from the pier is going or has gone to the Palestinians, White House National Security Council Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters on Wednesday.

“The issue is not actually getting food to the pier [and] off the pier, it’s being able to ensure that we have necessary security arrangements in place to deliver it,” Sullivan told reporters.

Sullivan’s comments come a day after Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder told reporters that none of the aid from the pier had been distributed by aid groups to the Palestinians.

“I understand, you know, the focus on, ‘Why is this not working?’ But what we’re focused on is how we can work to ensure that the Palestinian people get the aid,” Ryder told reporters, confirming that trucks carrying the aid had been ransacked on Saturday. “In any operation of complexity, there’s going to be challenges and hurdles that have to be overcome.”

Security concerns onshore present a challenge to ensuring aid is properly distributed to the Palestinians. Crowds overwhelmed and looted several trucks carrying aid that was delivered to the causeway on Saturday, with people stripping resources from 11 of the 16 trucks en route to warehouses set up for proper distribution. The UN is now evaluating alternatives to the pier.

“We’ve seen that desperation before and we’ve seen how when we have a regular flow of humanitarian supplies, the risk of such incidents is drastically reduced,” an official from the World Food Programme (WFP), one of the groups distributing aid to Gaza, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Only a portion of the total aid that’s being sent to Gaza is currently being transported through the pier. The floating pier system aims to act as a vessel for roughly 90 truckloads worth of aid per day to the Palestinians, eventually up to 150 trucks per day, Ryder told reporters on Tuesday.

But so far, the actual number of trucks carrying aid from the pier system is well below expectations of 90 to 150 per day. Moreover, “300 to 500 trucks” of total aid are needed to address the humanitarian needs of the Palestinians, a UN official told the DCNF.

“We’ve seen on different days between 10 and 15 trucks worth of aid coming in [through the floating pier system],” the official told the DCNF.

The U.S. should focus on other methods to get aid to the Palestinians, such as pressuring Egypt into allowing truck convoys to pass through the Rafah border crossing, Shoshana Bryen, senior policy director at the Jewish Policy Center, told the DCNF. More than 82,000 metric tons of aid are piled up in Egypt as officials stonewall attempts to transfer it through the crossing.

“The pier could become sort of effective, better than airdrops, but our first offload was 10 trucks, followed by five the next day and none two days after. And [the Pentagon] isn’t sure what happened to any of them,” Bryen told the DCNF. “We lose control because [U.S. forces] are not on the ground, but we’re not on the ground because we don’t want to be. And should not want to be. That is the biggest logistical problem — the U.S. does not control anything beyond the Gaza shore.”

“That makes the pier a relative drop in the bucket at best — a waste of $320 million American taxpayer dollars and the futile deployment of 1,000 U.S. service personnel,” Bryen added.

Moreover, experts previously told the DCNF that the pier’s proximity to the shore puts U.S. personnel well within range of attacks from Hamas.

“Until Hamas is gone, there is no security plan because as long as Hamas is there, they’re firing rockets, small arms, etc.,” and the operation is in danger, Robert Greenway, national security director at the Heritage Foundation, previously told the DCNF.

Delivering aid to Gaza via the JLOTS system requires several steps. First, members of the international community deliver aid to Cyprus, an island roughly 350 miles away Gaza, where it is inspected by aid workers and Israeli officials. It is then transported to the floating pier located off the coast of Gaza; vessels stand by to pick up the aid and then transport it back to the causeway attached to the shores.

Various aid groups inside Gaza, including the WFP, then transport the aid to several warehouses in the region for distribution to the Palestinians. The WFP paused delivery of aid through the JLOTS and causeway on Tuesday, warning that the pier system may fail unless relevant challenges are addressed.

“Without sufficient supplies entering Gaza, these issues will continue to surface. Community acceptance and trust that this is not a one-off event are essential for this operation’s success,” a WFP spokesman said on Tuesday about the looting of the trucks on Saturday. “We have raised this issue with the relevant parties and reiterated our request for alternative roads to facilitate aid delivery. Unless we receive the necessary clearance and coordination to use additional routes, this operation may not be successful.”

Aside from the JLOTS system, other methods are being utilized to deliver aid into Gaza, including airdrops directly into the region and truck convoys moving through the crossings in Egypt and Israel. The UN says that anywhere from 150 to 216 trucks of aid have entered Gaza daily from March to May.

The Biden administration has put increasing pressure on Israel to curtail military operations in Gaza amid humanitarian concerns in the region. Israel has repeatedly stated that it is taking drastic measures to ensure aid is being delivered to the region amid its ongoing war with Hamas, which has reached a new theater in Rafah, the southernmost part of Gaza.

The Pentagon directed the DCNF to Ryder’s comments yesterday.

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