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By: Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh.

On 7/3/2024, President Biden announced that the US will “establish a temporary pier in the Mediterranean on the coast of Gaza” to facilitate the distribution of “humanitarian assistance” to the impoverished, particularly in northern Gaza Strip (GS). The concept is a component of the proposed Cyprus-Gaza maritime corridor, endorsed by the European Commission, US, Britain, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Cyprus and the UAE. Under this arrangement, Israel would oversee the inspection of goods in Cyprus and grant authorization for shipment to GS.

US soldiers are anticipated to arrive within 30 days aboard the Logistics Support Vessel SP4 James A. Loux that set sail from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, followed by three US Army vessels. The pier is expected “to be fully operational in approximately 60 days.” According to US statements, once the pier is completed, it “will be able to push up to two million meals or two million bottles of water ashore each day.”

Israel backed the pier plan, with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stating that the maritime “would help speed along Israel’s goal of toppling” the Hamas group. The Israeli newspaper The Jerusalem Post revealed that Biden is implementing a plan initiated by Netanyahu “two weeks following the war’s outbreak”!! In other words, the pier will serve as a tool for Israeli-US command and control to enforce the “Day After” vision for the GS post-war.

The United States is for sure not acting out of “charity.” It remains the primary partner in the war on GS and the leading supplier of weapons and explosives to Israel. These armaments have been employed to devastate the Gaza’s infrastructure and inflict casualties, resulting in the killings and injuries of tens of thousands of children, women and the elderly. According to Israel Hayom on 18/3/2024, since 7 October 2023, “more than 300 planes and about 50 ships carrying munitions and military equipment, containing about 35,000 tons of weapons systems, munitions, and other arms, have arrived in the country.” According to The New York Times on 21/12/2023, Israel’s aggression involved 2,000-pound bombs (907 kilograms), causing human injuries within a 900-meter radius of detonation and creating craters measuring roughly 12 meters across or larger (equivalent to about 4 floors). The occupation dropped hundreds of these bombs on the people of Gaza!!

The US is the driving force behind the ongoing aggression, providing international cover and utilizing its veto power to thwart unanimous efforts to halt it. It employs political tools to coerce the Arab and Muslim world into silence and cooperation with Israel, while threatening any side supporting GS and its resistance.

Notably, the proposal for a maritime corridor from Cyprus is backed by parties aligned with Israel’s war on GS, including Germany, Britain and Italy, in addition to the US. Hence, the notion of providing “humanitarian assistance” resembles the minimal food provision by a jailer to prisoners until achieving his objectives. Thus, the pier appears as a deceptive and superficial “humanitarian” guise for the “brutal” actions on the ground.

If the US administration were genuinely committed to providing humanitarian assistance, it could have simply given a green light to the Egyptian government, beside a slight pressure on Israel, to open the Rafah crossing. This action would allow the thousands of trucks waiting to enter the crossing to swiftly deliver larger, more effective and sustainable aid to GS.

Israel’s deliberate aggressive tactics aimed to prevent any trusted party among the people of Gaza from distributing aid and overseeing the entry of goods. It is the same entity responsible for causing famine, infrastructure destruction, hundreds of massacres, and attacks on hospitals and schools. Moreover, they have bombed relief convoys and targeted those organizing aid delivery. This included a massacre near the Nabulsi roundabout on 29/2/2024, resulting in the deaths of 112 Palestinians who had come to collect aid.

Essentially, the pier plan’s underlying motive is control, “whoever manages the feeding of the people holds power over them”!! compelling their compliance whether they consent or not. The Israeli occupation, responsible for deliberately subjecting GS to a cruel famine, seeks to wrest control of managing and overseeing people’s lives from Hamas and resistance factions, placing it in its own hands or those of its trusted agents. This was a major reason why Israel approached tribal leaders in GS to take over the task, as a step in forming an alternative administration for GS. However, these leaders refused. Israel is still continuing its efforts and pressures on this track, as it is communicating with the PA leadership in Ramallah to take over the task according to its conditions; it also met with intelligence official Majid Faraj to form alternative security formations to Hamas.

To further its objectives, Israel may take charge of aid distribution in northern Gaza, aiming to normalize communication with the people and align their interests with its own. Additionally, it might seek to foster armed groups under the guise of protecting aid, ultimately transforming them into militias and corrupt entities whose interests align with its agenda.

On the other hand, the Israeli occupation will exploit the presence of the US pier as a pretext to evade criminal responsibility for the famine, siege and suffering endured by the people of GS, arguing that it facilitates the provision of necessities. Simultaneously, the pier’s existence will offer a conducive environment for sustaining its occupation and provide a rationale for closing the Rafah crossing (with this alternative), thus advancing its military campaign in the Rafah area and its bid to control the crossing and the Salah al-Din axis (Philadelphia axis) separating GS from Egypt.

Amid an occupation deliberately turning people’s lives into “hell,” concerns arise that this pier could be utilized for the displacement of Palestinians from GS, especially amidst conditions of famine and widespread destruction, and while migration routes abroad are being facilitated, in collaboration with the United States and several Western countries.

Furthermore, the pier could also serve to undermine Egypt’s crucial role in relation to Gaza, as Egypt represents Gaza’s sole crossing point to the world (excluding the Israeli occupation). Consequently, the pier could emerge as a potential competing alternative and a tool to exert pressure on Egypt.

The timeframe required to construct the pier, one month for arrival and two months for construction, totaling three months (this is before providing a single drink of water), is a troubling indication of the Israel’s continuation and premeditated intentions to bolster and prolong the occupation with US logistical backing. Consequently, any talk of halting the aggression or the Israel’s departure seems improbable for at least the next three months, signifying the likelihood of ongoing US cover for the war in the foreseeable future.

The US may indeed may aspire (if things go as they wish) for the pier to become a potential foundation for a sustainable US military base in the region, fulfilling part of their logistical requirements in the eastern Mediterranean.

Concurrently, Biden will likely attempt to cloak his brutality with a “humanitarian façade” to enhance his standing among American voters, particularly those demanding an end to war, as well as among Arab and Muslim communities whose support may influence his electoral prospects.

Finally, it is evident that Israel and its US ally are striving to shape Gaza’s future through military might and attempts to alter realities on the ground, including efforts to partition northern Gaza from the south. However, their endeavors do not guarantee success, and their attempts to create illusions of control cannot deceive the resistance. The valiant resistance, which has tirelessly battled the Israeli aggression in recent months, possesses the strength to thwart the Israeli-US schemes, overcome them and bring an end to their occupation.

Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, 19/3/2024

The opinions expressed in all the publications and studies are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of al-Zaytouna Centre.

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