Gaza aid pier suffered at least $22 million in damage, Pentagon assesses (2024)

The U.S. pier off Gaza’s coast will undergo at least $22 million in repairs before returning to service soon, two Pentagon officials said, an indication of the scope of damage it suffered when rough seas ripped the structure to pieces and abruptly halted the humanitarian mission only days after initial aid shipments went ashore.

The estimate, which has not been previously reported, came together as U.S. military personnel scramble to rebuild the structure in the Israeli port of Ashdod, north of Gaza, where the work is more protected from the elements. The cost for repairs could rise to as much as $28 million, said one of the officials, who like the other spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss military plans.

The Pentagon said this week that the project’s overall cost has been downgraded, from an initial estimate of $320 million to about $230 million now. Sabrina Singh, a spokeswoman, told reporters Wednesday that the savings were realized through lower-than-expected expenses for contracted vehicles and drivers, and Britain’s contribution of a military vessel to house the U.S. troops involved in the operation.


Singh said Wednesday that the overall price tag could fluctuate further “depending on the length of the mission and future costs — an example of that being additional repairs,” should they be necessary. She noted, too, that some of the repair costs are included in the new overall project estimate.

The rebuild is thought to be nearly complete, and officials hope to re-anchor the pier off Gaza’s coast “at the end of the week,” Singh said, with deliveries of food, water and other badly needed supplies to follow almost immediately. The pier is kept out at sea, with a long, steel causeway used to deliver trucks ashore.

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Middle East conflict

Gaza aid pier suffered at least $22 million in damage, Pentagon assesses (1)Gaza aid pier suffered at least $22 million in damage, Pentagon assesses (2)

Israeli forces rescued four hostages over the weekend in an operation that also killed at least 270 Palestinians in Gaza. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is beginning a tour of the Middle East.

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Despite this and other setbacks, Biden administration officials have fiercely defended the project as Israel’s punishing eight-month war against Hamas militants has sealed off the Palestinian territory and stymied overland food deliveries. More than a million people now face famine.


The pier structure is optimized for use in waves that are just a foot or two tall, U.S. military officials have said. While the eastern Mediterranean Sea has a long history of rough seas, usually there is a window of relative calm that begins in May, they said.

Aid deliveries over the pier began under duress around the middle of last month and were suspended May 28 after a North African storm system boosted waves to upwards of five feet, causing the pier to break apart.

Days before, four U.S. Army vessels supporting the mission ran aground, and a separate accident at sea — which the Pentagon has yet to fully explain — left a U.S. service member badly injured. Singh said Wednesday that the soldier, who was hurt aboard a ship away from the pier, remained in critical condition after being transported to Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas.

The mission was announced by President Biden in March as part of a broader effort to get aid to starving Gazans. Critics have said that instead of constructing the pier, the administration could have delivered aid into Gaza faster — and at less cost — by exerting greater leverage on the Israeli government to ease restrictions on aid moving through overland routes.


“There is no viable alternative to keeping the overland crossings open and unimpeded,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, president of Refugees International. “Even if the pier is repaired, it remains vulnerable to suspended operations any time there are moderately heavy seas.”

Installation of the structure was initially expected early in May, but was delayed until May 16 by bad weather and rough waves.

U.S. military officials said that before the mission was suspended, about 1,000 tons of aid were delivered to Gaza over the pier.

National security analysts also have raised concerns that the pier and some of the estimated 1,000 American personnel deployed for the mission could be vulnerable to an attack by Hamas or another militant group. Pentagon officials have said they are relying in part on Israeli forces to create a security bubble for the structure and have some U.S. forces involved to protect it.

Gaza aid pier suffered at least $22 million in damage, Pentagon assesses (2024)
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