May 22, 2024 | Flash Brief

Stung by Looting, UN Announces New Distribution Routes for Gaza Aid Delivered Through U.S.-Funded Pier

May 22, 2024 | Flash Brief

Stung by Looting, UN Announces New Distribution Routes for Gaza Aid Delivered Through U.S.-Funded Pier

Latest Developments

The United Nations announced that new routes are being planned for the delivery of humanitarian aid in Gaza arriving through a U.S.-built pier off the Mediterranean coast, Reuters reported on May 21. The announcement came as the distribution of aid delivered to the pier was suspended for a third day because of concerns over looting.

Although the initial 10 trucks carrying aid to a World Food Programme (WFP) warehouse in Deir el-Balah in central Gaza made it safely to their destination on May 17, one day after the pier opened, looters severely disrupted a convoy of 16 trucks on the following day. Five of those trucks managed to reached the WFP warehouse, while the other 11 were “cleaned out” by Palestinians during the journey. “Crowds had stopped the trucks at various points along the way. There was what I think I would refer to as self-distribution,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on May 21.

A WFP spokesperson in Cairo, Abeer Etefa, told Reuters that distribution had been paused as the UN planned new routes and coordination of deliveries in a bid to prevent more aid from being intercepted. “The missions were planned for today using the new routes to avoid the crowds,” Etefa said.

The pier, constructed at a cost of $320 million and involving 1,000 U.S. service personnel, is intended to provide another aid route into Gaza to augment land crossings from Israel and Egypt and air drops of food and other supplies.

Expert Analysis

“The United States is now experiencing some of the same challenges that Israel has been wrestling with for months. Getting aid to Gaza is one thing, but the distribution of aid once it arrives in Gaza is a whole different matter. This reality should make critics of Israel in the United States and Europe think twice before accusing the Jewish state of blocking the flow of aid into Gaza, even as the same critics ignore or minimize aid distribution problems within Gaza.” — Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power

“We need a serious conversation about whether American taxpayers just spent $320 million to pump aid directly into Hamas’s hands.” Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

Looting Hampers Efforts to Distribute Gaza Aid

The Pentagon has said that the United States is coordinating with UN agencies, including the WFP, to distribute the aid in Gaza. On May 20, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) reported that 569 metric tons of humanitarian assistance had been delivered using the pier. Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said during a press briefing on May 21 that Washington was helping to establish “alternative routes for the safe movement of that cargo.” He added that “aid is now being taken from those assembly areas to warehouses for further distribution throughout Gaza.”

In recent weeks, a number of incidents of aid theft have been reported. These include the hijacking by Hamas terrorists of a major humanitarian aid shipment that entered through the Erez crossing into northern Gaza on May 2 as well as the WFP’s decision in February to pause aid delivery after a convoy involving multiple trucks was looted and a driver physically assaulted. According to veteran Israeli journalist Ehud Ya’ari, Hamas has earned at least $500 million from the sale of captured aid since the beginning of the war.

First Humanitarian Aid Arrives Through U.S.-Israeli Constructed Gaza Pier,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Opens Third Humanitarian Aid Crossing Into Northern Gaza,” FDD Flash Brief

Hamas Diverts Jordan Aid Convoys in Gaza,” FDD Flash Brief

Issues:

Arab Politics Egypt International Organizations Israel Israel at War Military and Political Power U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy