This week the Biden administration suspended aid deliveries via the newly constructed pier on Gaza’s coast. The pier, which cost American taxpayers $320 million and counting, has broken apart, with entire sections and vessels beached along the Mediterranean shoreline. Even worse, the paltry amount of aid that made it into Gaza was almost entirely plundered by Hamas. The pier is not now—and was never going to be—an efficient mechanism for delivering aid to Gazan civilians. Rather, it was always intended to serve as a very expensive and risky stage on which President Biden could portray himself as a righteous figure to the Hamas-aligned, hyper-progressive voters in swing states.  

Delivering aid through a single, floating pier is slow, easily interrupted by bad weather, and, without security on the ground, subject to regular Hamas theft or UNRWA misuse. If the goal of the administration is to deliver as much aid as possible in the shortest timeline, an existing port facility with overland routes to Gaza would be faster, cheaper, and safer for U.S. forces. Both Egypt, in Port Said, and Israel, in Tel Aviv, have the capability to receive large quantities of U.S. aid and transport it directly to humanitarian zones in Gaza. The U.S. could have also utilized a much smaller Israeli pier just south of Ashkelon that sits within view of the Gaza border.  

The administration instead made a deliberate decision to avoid Israeli or Egyptian involvement in aid delivery, doing so for two political benefits. The first is domestic and gives the Biden administration a talking point for American progressives: the pier and the herculean struggle to get aid ashore is a mark of Biden’s vigorous commitment to help Palestinians. Internationally, the pier gives the Biden team leverage it can now use to scold both Israel and Egypt, two nations it views with contempt.   

Israel already provides more aid to Gaza than any other nation, yet remains a prime target for Biden’s criticisms. The administration’s very building of the pier implies that Israel is withholding aid from Gaza and cannot be trusted to escort American aid into the conflict zone. This plays into fabricated narratives broadcast by Israel’s enemies about attempts to deliberately starve Gazan civilians. The narratives increase pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu to slow or cease operations targeting Hamas. The pier, functional or not, has become a kind of virtue signal for the Biden team to pressure Israel with as Biden is desperate for the war between Israel and Hamas to end before the election in November.  

Egypt, for its part, closed its border with Gaza and refuses to accept any Palestinian refugees into the sparsely populated Sinai region. Only minimal amounts of aid have gone from Egypt to Gaza, exacerbating humanitarian issues and complicating Israeli military operations. All of this prevents Israel from more effectively, and expeditiously clearing out Hamas strongholds, but more important to Biden, Egypt’s policy shows that Gaza is full of terrorists and terrorist sympathizers that Egypt dare not allow in.  

By avoiding coordination or cooperation with Egypt or Israel, the administration is now able to deflect blame on two of its least favorite leaders, Sisi and Netanyahu, making a spectacle of their alleged failure to provide aid to Gaza.  

Yet, without Israel and Egypt, the administration is delivering aid without a viable recipient to ensure transportation or storage. Like the ineffectual aid airdrops before it, the pier has no security mechanism to protect aid once it arrives in Gaza. As of May 25, nearly all the aid delivered had been looted by terrorist organizations; the Department of Defense admitted that none of the aid has reached the Palestinian people, and what little does is often sold to them by terrorists at exorbitant prices. 

This has caused the administration to quietly begin defying Congress by resuming aid delivery to UNRWA, the UN entity in Gaza, which was paused after it was revealed that hundreds of UNRWA workers participated in the massacres of October 7th. Two weeks ago, the bodies of several Israelis, including Shani Louk, were found hidden in a tunnel under UNRWA facilities. Many in Congress are now calling for a permanent ban on U.S. support for UNRWA.  

Yet last week Samatha Power, USAID administrator, stated UNRWA was, “at the core,” of U.S. aid efforts at the pier. Defense officials later corroborated her statement saying aid from the pier was being delivered to an UNRWA warehouse where much of it was looted.  

The pier, now breaking apart and floating away in the Mediterranean surf, has failed to deliver aid to Gazans. Similarly, the misadventure failed to deliver the Biden team what they wanted: a stage for performative efforts. That U.S. service members have been asked to put their lives at risk for this performance, rather than safely delivering aid via overland routes with host nation support, is a disgrace.  As with other foreign policy disasters of this administration, the goals were political, the risks to the military an afterthought, the costs to Americans exorbitant, and the results an embarrassment. Unfortunately, if history is precedent, accountability will be absent.