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US Forces Face Danger in Gaza Pier Mission, Lawmakers Caution

Gaza pier could be dangerous for US troops (Credits: The Hill)

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin testified before the House Armed Services Committee, addressing concerns about the safety of US servicemembers involved in the pier operation off the coast of Gaza.

Austin acknowledged that it was “possible” US troops could come under fire while operating the pier, but emphasized that they are equipped to protect themselves.

“Typically, all deployed service members carry guns and have the ability to protect themselves if challenged,” Austin stated. When Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) pressed whether this meant US troops would return fire if attacked, Austin confirmed, “They have the right to return fire to protect themselves.”

Will pier become a beachhead for US in Gaza (Credits: Responsible Statecraft)

The pier, announced by President Biden during his State of the Union address in March, aims to facilitate humanitarian aid delivery to Gaza. The $320 million project is expected to become operational within days.

However, the potential risks to US forces have sparked concerns among lawmakers, who question how the approximately 1,000 American troops involved will avoid danger.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and 10 other senators expressed their concerns in a letter to Biden, stating, “We are concerned that the mission entails a huge risk to US personnel…

This decision appears to ignore force protection issues entirely against an enemy that tries to kill Americans every day.” Their concerns were heightened when militants fired rockets at Israeli troops near the pier site last week.

Despite these concerns, US officials emphasize that the military is working closely with Israel on a comprehensive security plan for the pier.

Alarming lack of detail in military’s Gaza aid project (Credits: Responsible Statecraft)

The operation will involve a floating dock miles from Gaza, where humanitarian aid groups will unload cargo from Cyprus. The aid will then be transported on small Army boats to a pier attached to the Gaza shore and offloaded into the coastal strip.

No US boots will be on the ground in Gaza during this operation. The pier project aims to address the critical need for humanitarian aid in Gaza, but the risks to US forces involved have sparked important discussions about force protection and security.

As the operation moves forward, lawmakers and officials will continue to scrutinize the security plan to ensure the safety of US personnel.

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