Biden to have US military build a port in Gaza

President Biden is to announce on Thursday during his State of the Union address that the U.S. military will build a port in Gaza. 

The development was revealed earlier Thursday by a senior administration official discussing humanitarian aid for the Hamas-controlled territory. 

“Tonight in the speech, the president will announce that he’s directing the U.S. military to lead an emergency mission to establish a port in the Mediterranean on the Gaza coast that can receive large ships carrying food, water, medicine and temporary shelters,” the official said.

“This port, the main feature of which is a temporary pier, will provide the capacity for hundreds of additional truckloads of assistance each day,” a second official added. “We will coordinate with the Israelis on the security requirements on land and work with the U.N. and humanitarian NGOs. Understand the distribution of assistance within Gaza and Israeli settlements will come via Cyprus enabled by the U.S. military and a coalition of partners and allies.”

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President Biden speaks during a meeting with his Competition Council in the State Dining Room of the White House on March 5, 2024 in Washington, DC.  (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

“This new significant capability will take a number of weeks to plan and execute the forces that will be required to complete this mission are either already in the region or will begin to move there soon,” the official added. “We look forward to working with our close partners and allies in Europe, the Middle East and beyond, to build a coalition of countries that will contribute capabilities and funding for this initiative.”

Aid air dropped into Gaza

Humanitarian aid falls over northern Gaza as seen from Israel’s southern border with the Gaza Strip on March 7, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas.  (JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Declining to get ahead of the Department of Defense in terms of the number of personnel involved in the operation and security questions, an official said mechanisms would be established with assistance from the United Nations and humanitarian partners to distribute the aid on land within Gaza. 

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“This is foreseen to be an operation that won’t require U.S. boots on the ground,” the official reiterated. “I think one of the reasons why this development is so key is that we’re building a redundant system so that we aren’t relying on one or two crossings as single points of failure in terms of being able to get assistance in.” 

The second official on the call clarified that the operation to build the port involves U.S. military personnel on military vessels “but does not require U.S. military personnel to go ashore to install the pier or causeway facility that will allow the transportation of humanitarian assistance ashore.” 

Truck load of Gaza aid

A convoy of vehicles carrying humanitarian aid for Gaza is met by Israeli forces at a checkpoint by the Kerem Shalom border crossing on March 7, 2024.  (Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu via Getty Images)

The U.S. has provided more than $180 million in assistance since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas militants on southern Israel, according to the Biden administration.

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“Responding to the major increases in the needs of the Palestinian people has been a priority since day one, and it remains one today. But the truth is, we know that the aid flowing into Gaza is nowhere near enough and nowhere near fast enough,” an official said on the call. “The president will make clear again this evening that we all need to do more and that the United States is doing more, and we are seeking to use every channel possible to get additional assistance into Gaza.” 

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
 

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