Top US Republican lawmaker calls for Gaza pier to be shut, replaced by land routes

Congressman Mike Rogers’ letter adds to growing Republican criticism of the Gaza pier project

MEE staff

US Capitol building, Congress (2021/AFP)

A senior US Republican lawmaker has called on US President Joe Biden’s administration to shut down the Gaza pier and focus on moving aid into the besieged enclave by land.

“I urge the administration to immediately cease this failed operation before further catastrophe occurs and consider alternative means of land and air-based humanitarian aid delivery,” Republican Congressman Mike Rogers wrote in a letter sent to the Biden administration according to Reuters.

Rogers, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, complained that the pier – which cost $230m – is a waste of taxpayer money and has put US lives in danger, according to Reuters. The letter was sent to White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The Pentagon has said that since 17 May, it has delivered 2,500 metric tonnes of aid via the pier. The figure is more than twice the amount of aid that has been airdropped by the US into Gaza but continues to be only a trickle of the amount of aid that was entering the enclave before the war. Prior to October, roughly 7,500 metric tonnes were entering Gaza daily.

The pier was a major undertaking, requiring about 1,000 US military personnel.

Rogers said in his letter that three US soldiers suffered non-combat injuries working on the pier.

The pier was announced with fanfare by the Biden administration but now the US is considering temporarily dismantling and relocating it. Rights groups and Palestinians have criticised it as a costly distraction from the immediate need to press Israel to open more land routes into Gaza.

“This pier has been an immense and costly distraction from the work that we need to do and the problems we need to solve,” Scott Paul, who leads humanitarian policy at Oxfam, told Middle East Eye.

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“This was a way of avoiding addressing the most critical obstacles to humanitarian assistance in Gaza, and so I think it’s fair to say that it has not met even the administration’s modest expectations for it.”

Roger’s letter adds to Republican criticism of the project based on concerns it risks entangling the US directly into the war on Gaza and presents unnecessary costs.

In a proposed amendment to the fiscal 2025 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a group of Republican lawmakers are looking to prevent any funding for the Pentagon from going into the project, MEE reported.

“None of the funds authorised to be appropriated or otherwise made available for fiscal year 2025 for the Department of Defence may be used to construct, maintain or repair a pier off the coast of Gaza,” the amendment states.

Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace, who introduced the amendment in a House of Representatives markup of the NDAA, called the project “a disaster”.

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