U.S. to Construct Aid Port in Gaza

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien is a published journalist and historicist with over six years of experience in freelance journalism and research. His primary expertise is in African conflict and politics, with additional specialization in Israeli/Palestinian and Armenia/Azerbaijan conflicts. Sébastien serves as the deputy desk chief for Africa.

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What’s Happening

US officials have stated that US President Joe Biden will be announcing the construction of an aid port on the Gazan coastline in order to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to the strip by sea. The announcement is to come during the State of the Union address today, March 7th.

The announcement comes after a series of airdrops of aid carried out by the US, France, Jordan, and Egypt over Gaza over the last week, following increased reports of famine throughout Gaza, particularly in the north, where the UNRWA has halted aid deliveries due to the untenable security situation, as well as a lack of supplies.

A photo of aid deliveries being airdropped above Gaza on March 5th, 2024 (Photo from AFP).

Notably, the US is moving ahead with the plan to build the port without waiting for any sort of Israeli approval of the plan. They did specify that no US military personnel would be deployed to Gaza, leaving it unclear at this moment who will be in charge of facilitating the delivery of aid through the port, after its construction is completed by the US military. It is the US’ hope that the operation will move from a military operation to a commercial operation.

“We’re not waiting on the Israeli’s. This is a moment for American leadership” -US Officials statement

Although they are moving ahead regardless of Israeli approval, the US has stated they will coordinate with Israel on security issues for the port. The port is estimated to bring in “hundreds of additional truckloads” of aid per day into Gaza. Regarding aid delivery, the US stated they would coordinate with the UN and other aid groups which “understand the distribution of assistance within Gaza.”

There has been no established timeline for when the port will finish construction and be operational, with the US stating the full plan would “take a number of weeks to plan and execute.”

Stalled Negotiations

The announcement comes amidst stalled negotiations between Hamas, Israel, and several international mediators for a ceasefire. The stall is resultant from several key differences between the Israeli side’s demands and the demands of Hamas. Hamas is insisting upon a complete and final ceasefire, and end to the Israeli military offensive into Gaza, and the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza. The Israeli side, however, is insistent on the ceasefire only being temporary, claiming that any permanent ceasefire will simply allow Hamas to rearm and attack them again later. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly made it clear that for Israel, the war ends when Hamas is “destroyed” in completion.

Within the US, Biden is facing increased pressure to both deliver aid to Palestinians within Gaza, but also make moves to halt the Israeli military offensive, which as of late last week has produced over 30,000 fatalities. Protests within the Democratic Party are raising, including a movement which is calling to withhold votes from Biden in the Democrat primaries.

The pressure on Biden is coinciding with internal pressure on Netanyahu to rescue the remaining hostages within Gaza, who were taken during Hamas’ initial attack on October 7th.

Of Desperate Need

The US’ airdrops over Gaza, as well as the construction of the port, are desperately needed as the humanitarian situation within Gaza faces a complete collapse. As mentioned, the UNRWA has completely halted its aid deliveries to northern Gaza, citing the “complete chaos and violence due to the collapse of civil order”, Israeli military action, and lack of supplies to be able to continue to do so.

Aid entering Gaza in February was half of that in January, representing a dire situation for humanitarian operations that were already hanging on by a thread.