US dismisses claims that Gaza aid pier was used in IDF hostage rescue mission

Pentagon pushes back against ‘inaccurate social media allegations’ as UN says it won’t resume operations there ‘until a thorough assessment of the security situation is conducted’

The image provided by US Central Command shows American and Israeli forces placing the Trident Pier on the coast of Gaza Strip on May 16, 2024. (US Central Command via AP)
The image provided by US Central Command shows American and Israeli forces placing the Trident Pier on the coast of Gaza Strip on May 16, 2024. (US Central Command via AP)

The Pentagon on Monday sought to dispel what it said were false social media reports that Israel used a floating US pier off Gaza in a hostage rescue mission, as the UN said it would review security before resuming aid deliveries from the dock.

Pentagon spokesperson Major General Patrick Ryder pushed back “on some of the inaccurate social media allegations,” stressing that the pier was not used during the Israeli military operation on Saturday to rescue four hostages held by Hamas.

Ryder acknowledged that there were Israeli helicopter operations “near” the pier. “The pier, the equipment, the personnel all supporting that humanitarian effort had nothing to do” with the Israeli rescue operation, he said.

The US military briefly resumed offloading aid on Saturday for the first time in more than 10 days, but bad sea conditions halted aid movement on Sunday and Monday. The operation had been temporarily suspended for repairs to the pier after a piece broke off.

However, the UN has not yet resumed transportation of the aid from the pier to UN World Food Program warehouses. WFP chief Cindy McCain said on Sunday that those warehouses were struck on Saturday and one person injured.

Gaza’s health ministry said 274 Palestinians were killed during Israel’s hostage rescue operation. This figure cannot be independently verified and does not differentiate between terrorists and civilians.

Illustrative: Palestinians carry boxes of humanitarian aid after rushing trucks transporting it from the US-built Trident Pier near Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip, May 18, 2024. (AFP)

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said UN involvement in the pier operations would remain suspended “until a thorough assessment of the security situation is conducted to ensure the safety of our staff and our partners.”

“What’s driving UN security concerns is that we continue to try to deliver aid in an active war zone,” he said. “We constantly reassess our security position, constantly reassess our operations to ensure that our own staff is safe and – just as importantly – those people who are trying to get aid.”

Aid began arriving via the US-built pier on May 17, and the UN said it transported 137 trucks of aid to warehouses, some 900 metric tons, before the US announced on May 28 that it had suspended operations so repairs could be made.

US President Joe Biden announced in March the plan to put the pier in place for aid deliveries over concerns about hunger in Gaza, the Hamas-run enclave of 2.3 million people.

The ongoing war in the enclave was started by the Hamas-led October 7 massacre in which Palestinian terrorists killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and 251 kidnapped.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 37,000 people in the Strip have been killed or are presumed dead in the fighting, an unverified figure that does not differentiate between civilians and combatants. The toll is believed to include some 15,000 terror operatives Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

Ryder said he did not believe misperceptions about the pier following the hostage rescues would put US forces, who have air defenses, at greater risk.

However, some aid groups said they saw cause for worry.

“There’s serious concerns about community acceptance of aid deliveries from the pier,” said Shaina Low of the Norwegian Refugee Council aid agency. “Perceptions like this put our operations and staff at risk because people could attack us if they think we are undercover agents.”

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