troops assemble the Trident Pier off the shore of Gaza

U.S. and Israeli troops assemble the Trident Pier off the shore of the northern Gaza Strip on April 26, 2024.

(Photo: U.S. Army Central Command)

As US Aid Shipments Begin, Gaza Pier Denounced as 'PR Move'

"It's completely absurd," said one humanitarian worker. "The solution to the problem here is obvious."

As humanitarian shipments began trickling into Gaza via a U.S.-built temporary floating pier, Palestinians and aid workers on Friday renewed criticism of what they called an expensive and largely ineffectual publicity stunt that is no substitute for a cease-fire and opening of more land crossings into the besieged coastal enclave.

U.S. Army Central Command said that "trucks carrying humanitarian assistance began moving ashore" at around 9:00 am local time Friday as part of "an ongoing, multinational effort to deliver additional aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza via a maritime corridor."

The $320 million Trident Pier—which consists of a floating offshore barge and 1,800-foot causeway to the shore—is expected to eventually accommodate up to 150 trucks per day. According to United Nations agencies, an average of 200 trucks entered Gaza each day last month, far fewer than the prewar daily mean of more than 500 truckloads that U.S. and U.N. officials say are required to meet the needs of a population facing critical shortages of food, water, medicine, and other lifesaving supplies.

"We don't want ships. We want the border crossing to open for people to come and go. We want safety."

However, as famine grips northern Gaza—with malnutrition and dehydration killing dozens of people, mostly children—and at least hundreds of thousands of other Palestinians starve, Israel has been accused of blocking aid from those who desperately need it and using starvation as a weapon of war.

"We don't want ships. We want the border crossing to open for people to come and go. We want safety. We want official borders," Hassan Abu Al-Kass, a forcibly displaced Palestinian man, toldThe New York Times on Thursday.

Al-Kass compared the pier to the humanitarian aid airdropped by U.S. and other troops over Gaza, whose officials say that more than 20 people have been killed by the parachuting parcels, either by crushing or drowning while trying to reach offshore drops.

"Those planes, as well, that they bring here with the parachutes, and they throw food at us like dogs, like beggars, that does not work," he said. "It falls on houses. It falls on people. It brings us problems."

One unnamed humanitarian aid worker told U.S. investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill: "It's completely absurd. The solution to the problem here is obvious and we need to end the occupation... Once the siege is lifted, humanitarian aid can roll in. A pier is a PR move."

Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, said Thursday that "to stave off the horrors of famine, we must use the fastest and most obvious route to reach the people of Gaza—and for that, we need access by land now."

Washington Post columnist Ishaan Tharoor noted on social media Thursday that "no major humanitarian organization has asked for this pier, and most see it as a costly distraction that will do little to make a dent in meeting Gaza's overwhelming humanitarian needs."

"For that," he added, "you need a cease-fire and open border crossings and less military obstruction."

According to a report published last month, officials at the United States Agency for International Development concluded in a confidential memo to Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Israel is violating a White House directive by blocking humanitarian aid from entering Gaza. Critics pointed to the leaked memo as more evidence that the Biden administration is breaking the law by supporting Israel's assault on Gaza—which Palestinian and international officials say has killed, wounded, or left missing more than 125,000 people—with arms and diplomatic cover.

Parties to the South African-led genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, as well as human rights groups, accuse Israel of flouting the ICJ's January 26 preliminary ruling ordering the Israeli government to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza and ensure immediate delivery of humanitarian aid. Israel rejects charges of genocide and blocking aid.

Hundreds of U.N. and other aid workers—overwhelmingly Palestinians—have also been killed or wounded by Israeli forces in Gaza since October 7. Israeli troops have been accused of deliberately attacking both humanitarian workers and Palestinians trying to receive aid, including in the February 29 "Flour Massacre," in which nearly 900 starving Gazans were killed or wounded while waiting for food distribution south of Gaza City.

Critics have slammed U.S. President Joe Biden for offering token aid to Gazans with one hand while lavishing Israel with billions of dollars of weaponry used to kill Palestinians with the other.

Earlier this month, Biden said he would stop sending bombs, artillery shells, and other arms to Israel in the event of a major invasion of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians forcibly displaced from other parts of the embattled Gaza Strip are sheltering alongside around 280,000 local residents.

However, as Israeli air and ground attacks pound the southern city, killing civilians including 22 members of one family in a single strike, Biden—who previously implored Israel to stop its "indiscriminate bombing" of Palestinian noncombatants—informed Congress this week that his administration will soon send another $1 billion in arms and ammunition, including tank and mortar rounds, to the Israel Defense Forces.

This, despite the Biden administration last week acknowledging "reasonable" evidence that Israel is using U.S.-supplied weapons in the commission of war crimes in Gaza, with the caveat that "we are not able to reach definitive conclusions" on the matter.

Join Us: News for people demanding a better world

Common Dreams is powered by optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter makes the difference.

Your contribution supports this bold media model—free, independent, and dedicated to reporting the facts every day. Stand with us in the fight for economic equality, social justice, human rights, and a more sustainable future. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.