The food bridge to nowhere: US admits 30% of Gaza aid isn’t getting to civilians

The $300m structure became operational six days ago

Andrew Feinberg
Washington DC
Wednesday 22 May 2024 22:11 BST
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Gaza Aid Delivery Halted Amid Looting and Diplomatic Strife

A third of aid arriving from the US-constructed humanitarian bridge in Gaza is not getting to civilians, Pentagon officials admit.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Wednesday that approximately 695 metric tons of humanitarian aid has been transported to Gaza by way of the US-built pier over the six days since it began operation.

Of that amount, Mr Sullivan two-thirds is “either has gone or is on its way to going to Palestinian civilians.”

“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,” he said.

His comments came as the World Food Program warned that Gaza’s hunger crisis could spiral out of control if massive amounts of aid aren’t delivered into the territory immediately

“Humanitarian operations in Gaza are near collapse,” said Abeer Etefa, a WFP spokesperson. If food and other supplies don’t resume entering Gaza “in massive quantities, famine-like conditions will spread,” she said Wednesday.

Israel Palestinians Aid Port under construction
Israel Palestinians Aid Port under construction (US Army)

Mr Sullivan told reporters the US and its’ partners “had modalities to get some of that aid distributed” and are currently “in the process of building out to get more of it distributed.”

His admission that a significant share of the supplies - roughly 230 tons of aid - is not reaching Gaza residents who have been left in a state of famine following nearly eight months of war comes after President Joe Biden and other White House officials have touted the temporary pier.

The temporary structure, which cost approximately $300 million to construct, was built in the Mediterranean Sea and anchored to a beach south of Gaza City, is supposed to be an alternate path for aid that can bypass frequently-closed crossings into Gaza and deliver much-needed aid to address what the World Food Program has described as a “famine”.

Palestinians line up for free food during the ongoing Israeli air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip in Rafah
Palestinians line up for free food during the ongoing Israeli air and ground offensive on the Gaza Strip in Rafah (AP)

But a UN World Food Program spokesperson, Steve Taravella, has said the first tranche of aid trucks to roll off the pier was largely ransacked and looted by people before they could reach a UN warehouse on Saturday.

Of that batch of 16 trucks, he said only five arrived there with their full loads.

Yet Mr Sullivan denied the problems delivering aid over the pier were a “failure of planning” and instead called the bottleneck “an indication this is a dynamic environment we need to continue to refine” and stressed that aid to Gaza “is flowing.”

“It is not flowing at the rate that any of us would be happy with because we always want more, but we are actually seeing good cooperation between the US, the IDF, the UN [and] humanitarian organizations to ensure that aid goes from that pier to innocent people in need,” he said.

The Independent recently published an investigation into the Biden administration’s role in failing to prevent a famine taking hold in Gaza.

It cited current and former US officials blaming the administration for rejecting or ignoring pleas to use its leverage to persuade its ally Israel – the recipient of billions of dollars of US military support – to allow sufficient humanitarian aid into Gaza.

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