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America’s Trojan Horse: the “Humanitarian” Pier for Gaza

On June 8, 2024, the Israeli army raided the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, murdering at least 275 Palestinians and wounding more than 700 others to rescue four Israeli hostages.

The massacre has caused many to question the real purpose of the U.S. pier, which was meant to deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza. It also supported the claims of critics, who called it a trojan horse since President Joe Biden announced the start of its construction in his State of the Union address in March.  

A video shared across Israeli telegram channels and news outlets revealed that U.S. forces used the “humanitarian” pier to facilitate Israel’s gruesome massacre that involved both ground and air attacks. According to footage, Israeli soldiers hid in a humanitarian aid delivery truck to enter Nuseirat along with two military vehicles. 

Other videos showed the use of a helicopter in the area of the pier. According to the Middle East Monitor, a survivor saw U.S. boots on the ground, suggesting direct American involvement in Israel’s assault on the refugee camp. 

The Pentagon immediately called the reports “inaccurate” on June 10, 2024. “It was near, but I think it’s incidental. Again, the pier, the equipment, the personnel all supporting that humanitarian effort had nothing to do with the IDF rescue operation,” Pentagon spokesperson Patrick Ryder told reporters.

On the weekend of the massacre, however, the commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), General Erik Kurilla, paid a visit to Israel, according to an Israeli military announcement on June 11, 2024. 

“Kurilla and Halevi held an operational situation assessment, discussed recent regional challenges and the strengthening of the strategic partnership against the Iranian threat,” Israeli occupation army spokesman Avichai Adraee said on X. “They also discussed developments in the war against Hamas [sic] in the Gaza Strip and ongoing Hezbollah attacks from Lebanon.”

The UN Responds to the Nuseirat Massacre

United Nations human rights experts condemned Israel’s assault on the Nuseirat refugee camp and the hiding of soldiers in a humanitarian aid truck, which they said violates international humanitarian law and equates to a war crime.

“These tactics put aid workers and the delivery of much needed humanitarian aid at even greater risk and expose an unprecedented level of savagery in Israeli military actions,” they said. The experts also shared Palestinian survivors’ description of the streets of Nuseirat as filled with dead and injured bodies “lying in pools of blood.”

“Walls were covered in body parts scattered by multiple explosions and bombed houses,” they added. 

According to a recent report from Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, Israel has killed over 45,223 Palestinians since the start of its genocidal assault on Gaza, including those presumed dead under the rubble, and has injured 86,240 others. 

The Motives Behind the U.S. “Humanitarian” Pier 

In his State of the Union address in March, President Biden announced the building of a temporary “floating pier” that eases the transfer of humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. He also promised that there would be no U.S. boots on the ground.

Critics like notable American war journalist and author Chris Hedges, however, called the pier “Israel’s trojan horse,” which he predicted will be used to assist in the ongoing Israeli genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza.  “Piers allow things to come in,” Hedges said in his article. “They allow things to go out. And Israel, which has no intention of halting its murderous siege of Gaza, including its policy of enforced starvation, appears to have found a solution to its problem of where to expel the 2.3 million Palestinians.”

Hedges highlighted Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s proposal after October 7 that suggested the deportation of Palestinians on ships if the Arab countries do not accept them. “It worked in Beirut in 1982 when some eight and a half thousand Palestine Liberation Organization members were sent by sea to Tunisia and another two and a half thousand ended up in other Arab states,” Hedges wrote. “Israel expects that the same forced deportation by sea will work in Gaza.”

Hedges argued that Israel supports the “temporary pier” to purportedly deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza for this very reason, and because it is a  process that is supervised by the Israeli military.  “The “temporary pier” being built on the Mediterranean coast of Gaza is not there to alleviate the famine, but to herd Palestinians onto ships and into permanent exile,” he added. 

At the time, Hedges predicted that the IDF’s tactics would only intensify in severity, since it had already killed thousands of Palestinians through bombings, missiles, shells, shootings, starvation, and diseases. Therefore, he said this would leave no other options than “death or deportation.” 

“The pier is where the last act in this gruesome genocidal campaign will be played out as Palestinians are herded by Israeli soldiers onto ships,” he said. “How appropriate that the Biden administration, without whom this genocide could not be carried out, will facilitate it.”

For more information, read TMJ’s in-depth report on US interests in supporting Israel. 

The Trojan Horse Analogy

Another critic, Nadia Ahmad, a law professor and fellow at the Rutgers Center for Security, Race, and Rights, claimed the U.S. pier is a trojan horse used for resource exploitation. 

“Under the thin veil of delivering aid more efficiently, the U.S. military has built a temporary pier infrastructure that can be transitioned to commercial operations,” Ahmad wrote in her article published early this month.  According to her research, the Israeli government granted an energy company exploration licenses in early 2024 for natural gas in fields located within Palestine’s maritime areas to prepare to occupy them. 

She said the U.S. pier may seem like a “benevolent endeavor,” but it “masks an aggressive push to control Gaza’s offshore natural gas reserves, poised to enrich Israel and its allies at the expense of Palestinian sovereignty and welfare.”

Ahmad has worked in the extractive industries for Noble Energy, which is a multi-billion dollar oil and gas company currently owned by Chevron but originally an offshore development in Israel. The pier would give the U.S., Israel, and “their transnational oil and gas companies a physical foothold right at the epicenter of the contested gas fields, strengthening their hand over any future extraction plans.”

“The technology of oil and gas extraction is closely guarded so as not to let China get its hands on it,” she added.

The Pier as a Tool to Displace Palestinians 

In a recent article published on Mondoweiss, an anonymous resistance intelligence force within Gaza said there are signs that the U.S. pier would also be used to displace Palestinians instead of the original Israeli plan that sought to force Palestinians into Sinai, which was rejected by Egypt in the beginning of the genocide. 

“The floating pier project is an American solution to the displacement dilemma in Gaza,” the source said. “It goes beyond both the Israeli solution of displacing Gazans into Sinai…and the Egyptian suggestion of displacing [Gazans] into the Naqab [desert].” He said the U.S. pier would be used to force Palestinians into Cyprus, and then into either Lebanon or Europe. 

“According to our intelligence, the pier will be used to displace Palestinians to Cyprus through evacuation ships and then to Lebanon after undergoing a screening process,” the source told Mondoweiss. “It was agreed with Najib Mikati, the Lebanese Prime Minister, to receive $1 billion in aid to Lebanon to be paid through the European Union, with an additional $250 million to be paid to his own companies.”

In exchange, he said Lebanon would accept about “100,000 and 200,000 Gaza residents” who were forced into Cyprus through the pier. The move is expected to happen this fall.

Inevitably, the Palestinians’ concerns about displacement have become prevalent, especially after Israel’s Nuseirat massacre, which caused the international community to question the real motives behind the U.S. pier.

Although the U.S. insists that the pier is a “humanitarian” means of assistance and has denied all accusations otherwise, Israel’s direct support in its construction and its military’s control over incoming aid, as well as published videos that reveal U.S. involvement in the Nuseirat massacre point to a very different reality: that the pier may not be humanitarian after all. 

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  • Zahraa Abbas

    Zahraa Abbas is a Muslim American journalist who aims to dismantle euphemized and dehumanizing language targeting marginalized communities by redefining the terms and interrogating U.S. domestic and international affairs as well as mainstream media. She has a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor's in journalism and psychology from the University of Michigan, a master’s degree in English, and an MFA in creative writing.

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