Senator Tells Taxpayers On Gaza Pier: “Cost Has Not Just Risen, It Has Exploded”

An initial US Navy ship has reached Eastern Mediterranean waters off the coast of the Gaza Strip where its crew has begun constructing a floating platform for the ambitious Gaza humanitarian pier project ordered by President Biden, new satellite images published by Planet Labs show.

USNS Roy P. Benavidez is now some 5 miles from the shoreline location which serves as the base of operations, overseen by the Israeli military. The Associated Press writes that “A satellite image from Sunday by Planet Labs PBC showed pieces of the floating pier in the Mediterranean Sea alongside the vessel.”

Planet Labs PBC via AP

Both US and Israeli officials have voiced that they hope to have a mobile pier in place and humanitarian deliveries being offloaded via maritime routes by sometime in the first part of May.

The causeway is expected to be at a length of 550-meters (1,800 feet) and will have Israeli military protection. US Army and Navy engineers are expected to remain at sea, especially after days ago the pier site came under mortar shelling by Palestinian militants who have warned against foreign forces stepping foot inside Gaza.

A new Reuters report meanwhile indicates the pier will cost US taxpayers at least $320 million to finish. This is double the early estimates which were floated earlier this year.

“The figure, which has not been previously reported, illustrates the massive scale of a construction effort that the Pentagon has said involves about 1,000 US service members, mostly from the Army and Navy,” writes Reuters.

“The cost has not just risen. It has exploded,” Senator Roger Wicker, the top Republican on the Democratic-led Senate Armed Services Committee, has complained.

“This dangerous effort with marginal benefit will now cost the American taxpayers at least $320 million [US dollars] to operate the pier for only 90 days,” he continued.

Earlier this month, USAID director Samantha Power said that famine already exists in some parts of the Gaza Strip. WSJ has underscored this as well in its reporting last week: “Some U.S. officials have said the pier, which will float several miles off Gaza’s shore, will help get more aid into northern Gaza, where some residents are already living in famine-like conditions, according to estimates released last month by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, an international initiative tasked with assessing the risk of famine around the world.”

Many government officials especially from Global South countries have highlighted Washington’s contradictory approach to Gaza – on the one hand the US has been funding the Israeli military machine, sending controversial weaponry like 2,000-pound bombs, while on the other Biden has condemned the soaring civilian death toll and humanitarian catastrophe. Ironically, to some degree the United States is funding both sides of the conflict.

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