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Biden announces 'emergency' US military mission to build pier off Gaza coast to deliver aid

During his State of the Union speech on Thursday night, President Joe Biden announced an "emergency" military mission to construct a port in the Mediterranean Sea on Gaza's coast to get humanitarian aid in.

"I’m directing the U.S. military to lead an emergency mission to establish a temporary pier in the Mediterranean on the Gaza coast that can receive large ships carrying food, water, medicine and temporary shelters," Biden said in his address to Congress from the U.S. Capitol

"No U.S. boots will be on the ground," he said. "This temporary pier would enable a massive increase in the amount of humanitarian assistance getting into Gaza every day. But Israel must also do its part."

"Israel must allow more aid into Gaza," Biden continued, "and ensure that humanitarian workers aren’t caught in the cross fire."

The planned port was previewed by administration officials earlier on Thursday who said it will be able to receive "large ships carrying food, water, medicine, and temporary shelters," as one senior aide put it.

A senior defense official said the port's main feature will be a temporary pier that will "provide the capacity for hundreds of additional truckloads of assistance each day."

The effort will be undertaken by the U.S. and partner countries, a senior defense official said, and it will take "a number of weeks to plan and execute." The official said the forces needed to complete the mission are either already in the region or will head there soon.

The senior defense official said the operation will not require American troops to be on the ground. Later pressed, the senior White House official said the U.S. military has "unique capabilities" and "can do things from just offshore that is extraordinary."

Initial shipments of aid will arrive through the port via Cyprus, the defense official said.

PHOTO: The Trident pier rests on the shore of Fort Story, Va., during the preliminary stages of the Joint Logistics-Over-the-Shore exercise, Aug. 17, 2012. (Dvids/Files)
PHOTO: The Trident pier rests on the shore of Fort Story, Va., during the preliminary stages of the Joint Logistics-Over-the-Shore exercise, Aug. 17, 2012. (Dvids/Files)

MORE: Biden says US to carry out airdrops of aid into Gaza in coming days

That official told reporters that the U.S. continues to push Israel to allow more aid into Gaza by land, saying it's the "most-efficient, cost-effective" option.

"But we have decided that we, and the president has directed, that we look at all options that we not wait for the Israelis and that we are pursuing every channel possible to get assistance into Gaza," the official said.

PHOTO: A Trident Pier supports Combined Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore in Anmyeon Beach, Korea, July 3, 2015. (Staff Sgt. Maricris McLane/U.S. Army)
PHOTO: A Trident Pier supports Combined Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore in Anmyeon Beach, Korea, July 3, 2015. (Staff Sgt. Maricris McLane/U.S. Army)
PHOTO: U.S. Army soldiers along with U.S. Navy Seabees align the Modular Causeway System of the Trident Pier in preparation for Iron Union 13 and Native Fury 20 in the United Arab Emirates, Mar 9, 2020. (Maj. Dino De La Hoya/U.S. Army, FILES)
PHOTO: U.S. Army soldiers along with U.S. Navy Seabees align the Modular Causeway System of the Trident Pier in preparation for Iron Union 13 and Native Fury 20 in the United Arab Emirates, Mar 9, 2020. (Maj. Dino De La Hoya/U.S. Army, FILES)

The defense official maintained getting a temporary cease-fire deal is the best way of getting aid in.

The senior White House official said "there's no hard and fast, like, deadline on this negotiation" when asked about reaching a deal before Ramadan.

"But obviously, we recognize that extremists could try to use Ramadan to spark something that would be deeply unfortunate in that holy month and we want to make sure that we have a peaceful period so people can worship and obviously we're working that through with the Israelis with the Palestinian Authority, with the Jordanians and others," the White House official said.

PHOTO: Humanitarian aid is air-dropped by US aircraft over the northern Gaza Strip, March 7, 2024. (Mohammed Saber/EPA via Shutterstock)
PHOTO: Humanitarian aid is air-dropped by US aircraft over the northern Gaza Strip, March 7, 2024. (Mohammed Saber/EPA via Shutterstock)

A senior defense official said the U.S. has provided more than $180 million worth in aid to Gaza since the war began on Oct. 7.

"But the truth is, we know that the aid flowing into Gaza is nowhere near enough and nowhere near fast enough," the defense official said. "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."

The defense official said Israel has been working in recent days to establish a third land crossing into Gaza that "will allow for aid to flow directly to the population in northern Gaza that is in dire need of assistance." The U.S. expects the first delivery via this passage to happen over the next week, the official added.

The Pentagon official also said that the U.S. made its third air drop of aid into Gaza Thursday morning. The three drops included 192 bundles totaling nearly 113,000 meals, the official added.

Biden announces 'emergency' US military mission to build pier off Gaza coast to deliver aid originally appeared on abcnews.go.com