Biden at State of the Union: “We’re building a pier for Gaza” – Day 153

Biden at State of the Union: “We’re building a pier for Gaza” – Day 153

Emergency, temporary pier would enable a massive increase in humanitarian aid; previous boats to Gaza had been attacked by Israeli forces; 2 Palestinians killed by air drop; White House wants a list of all pending weapons transfers to Israel; Congress members: US should not support Rafah invasion; Refugees Int’l report on Israeli obstruction of aid; EU to check on Israeli compliance with human rights demands; Pramila Paten’s UN “report” on Hamas sexual violence not trustworthy; more

By IAK staff, from reports

ABC News reports: During his State of the Union speech on Thursday night, President Joe Biden announced an “emergency” military mission to construct a port in the Mediterranean Sea on Gaza’s coast to get humanitarian aid in.

“I’m directing the U.S. military to lead an emergency mission to establish a temporary pier in the Mediterranean on the Gaza coast that can receive large ships carrying food, water, medicine and temporary shelters,” Biden said in his address to Congress from the U.S. Capitol. “This temporary pier would enable a massive increase in the amount of humanitarian assistance getting into Gaza every day…Israel must [also] allow more aid into Gaza,” Biden continued, “and ensure that humanitarian workers aren’t caught in the cross fire.”

A senior defense official said the port’s main feature will be a temporary pier that will “provide the capacity for hundreds of additional truckloads of assistance each day.”

The port will reportedly take weeks to build.

NY Times reports: “Britain, the European Union and the United Arab Emirates will join the United States in opening a maritime route for humanitarian relief to Gaza, officials said on Friday, adding momentum to a complex and untested effort to bring urgently needed aid to the territory by sea.”

“The first sea shipment of humanitarian relief to Gaza — food aid from the World Central Kitchen aid agency — could depart the Mediterranean nation of Cyprus as soon as Friday, European Union officials said.”

Previously, a civilian project to take aid to Gaza by boat, originated by activists Greta Berlin and Paul Larudee, had resulted in multiple humanitarian flotillas attempting to deliver aid to Gaza. Israeli forces attacked them, killing an American citizen.

Middle East eye reports: At least two Palestinians were killed and one other wounded after a faulty aid drop in Gaza City on Friday. 

An eyewitness said the packages were coming in fast to a residential area, and some people took cover in a construction site. One package landed on top of the site; it collapsed and killed two.

“It is pointless,” said one Palestinian. “A lot of the aid ended up in the sea or areas controlled by the Israeli army. You have got thousands of people running towards a few parcels of aid. They are playing games with us. Is the new motto: ‘We will eat and get medicine only if we are lucky enough to catch something falling from the sky’?”

Palestinians surrounded by the rubble of buildings in southern Gaza on Wednesday.
Palestinians surrounded by the rubble of buildings in southern Gaza on Wednesday. (photo)

Axios reports: The White House recently asked the State Department and the Pentagon for a list of all pending weapons transfers to Israel, four U.S. officials told Axios.

The Biden administration reportedly wants to to correlate its list of upcoming weapons transfers with Israel’s priority list, and to get a status update of defense export licenses that are pending.

The move is reportedly not a signal of an imminent change of policy in weapons transfers to Israel, but a routine request. The source stressed that the Biden administration has no plans to restrict military assistance to Israel at this time.

The Hill reports: A group of 37 of Democrats sent a letter to the White House on Tuesday warning that an anticipated invasion into Rafah would “likely contravene” principles outlined in a recent memo put out by the Biden administration last month.

They wrote that any ground invasion “that runs counter to the specific principles outlined” in the memorandum “should not be supported by U.S. taxpayer-funded assistance.”

Israeli officials appeared to have set a deadline to invade Rafah on the Muslim holy day of Ramadan on March 10.

Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes buried in mass grave in Rafah, Gaza
Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes buried in mass grave in Rafah, Gaza (photo)

Al Jazeera’s Hani Mahmoud reports from Rafah: The Israeli military seems to be disregarding global pressure and continuing with its plan of establishing a buffer zone. We were told by residents in eastern part of Rafah that the vast majority of their homes were destroyed or severely damaged. Their agricultural lands and farms have been razed all for the establishment of this Israeli buffer zone.

Refugees International just released a report, “Siege and Starvation: How Israel Obstructs Aid to Gaza.” A few excerpts:

Despite its claims to be facilitating humanitarian aid, research and analysis by Refugees International shows that Israeli conduct has consistently and groundlessly impeded aid operations within Gaza, blocked legitimate relief operations, and resisted implementing measures that would genuinely enhance the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza…

The long lines of trucks waiting in Egypt – that COGAT spins as signs of UN logistical failures – are in actual fact a testament to Israel’s failure to allow an enabling environment for humanitarian response inside the territory.

Accessing Northern Gaza is incredibly difficult and rare. UN and U.S. officials told Refugees International that any such access requires extensive diplomatic and political negotiation at senior UN and U.S. levels. These requests, they added, are routinely denied without any justification.

(Read the full report here.)

EU & HUMAN RIGHTS – EU top diplomat Josep Borrell declares: “The Spanish and Irish governments have asked the European institutions to check whether the Israeli government’s current policy complies with the human rights clauses in our association agreement. We will carry out this work.”

Josep Borrell, EU foreign policy chief
Josep Borrell, EU foreign policy chief (photo)

He adds, “it is the responsibility of the international community to step in and enforce an immediate end to the fighting in order to stop the humanitarian catastrophe, free the hostages still held by Hamas and protect the civilian population.

“Now that everyone agrees on this urgent need, the UN Security Council should be able to take a resolution to this effect.

“The international community will also have to shift from treating the symptoms to treating the root cause of the current escalation and solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict itself. Israelis, Palestinians, and all peoples of the region deserve to live in security, dignity and stability.

“We all know that there is only one viable and sustainable way to achieve these objectives: a sovereign, secure and peaceful Palestinian state, alongside a sovereign, secure and peaceful State of Israel. It is the sole guarantee for realizing and protecting the rights of both peoples.”

SEXUAL VIOLENCE – Electronic Intifada reports: UN official Pramila Patten released on Tuesday a report on alleged sexual violence by Hamas on October 7th. It appears to be an effort on Israel’s part to reclaim credibility after a major New York Times article on the same topic publicly and spectacularly unravelled.

Patten is not an unbiased UN official seeking the truth. During her visit to Israel, she reportedly “consistently expressed her solidarity, empathy and sympathy towards Israel.”

Her report admits to being based almost entirely on Israeli government and military sources. A key conclusion buried in the report concedes that the UN team “was unable to establish the prevalence of sexual violence,” and “no tangible indications of rape could be identified.”

Not a single specific victim of sexual assault has been positively identified, living or dead.

In other words, although the common refrain when it comes to allegations of rape is to “believe women,” in this case, there are still no women to believe. (Read the full article here.)

Palestinians walk on the street filled with debris of buildings destroyed due to Israeli attacks after Israeli forces withdrew from the Zeitoun neighbourhood in Gaza City following an intense ground battle with Palestinian fighters, March 7, 2024
Palestinians walk on the street filled with debris of buildings destroyed due to Israeli attacks after Israeli forces withdrew from the Zeitoun neighbourhood in Gaza City following an intense ground battle with Palestinian fighters, March 7, 2024 (photo)


Palestinian death toll from October 7 – March 7: at least 31,302* (30,878 in Gaza* (over 13,430 children, 9,000 women), and at least 424 in the West Bank (113 children). This does not include an estimated 7,000 more still buried under rubble (4,900 women and children). Euro-Med Monitor reports 39,178 Palestinian deaths.

38 Palestinians have died in Israeli prisons (27 from Gaza, 11 from West Bank)

20 Palestinians have died due to malnutrition

About 1.7 million, or 75% of Gaza’s population are currently displaced.

About 2.2 million (out of total population of 2.3 million) are facing Crisis, Emergency, or Famine levels of food insecurity.

Palestinian injuries from October 7 – March 7: at least 77,052** (including at least 72,402 in Gaza and 4,650 in the West Bank).

It remains unknown how many Americans are among the casualties in Gaza.

Reported Israeli death toll from October 7 – March 7: ~1,399 (~1,139 on October 7, 2023, of which ~574 were civilians, 373 or 337 were security and/or military forces, ~32 were Americans, and ~36 were children); 245 military forces since the ground invasion began in Gaza;, 15 in the West Bank) and~8,730 injured.

NBC reports: “According to the latest available IDF data… nearly 1 in 5, or 17%, of all Israel’s losses have come not at the hands of Hamas but from mishaps on its own side.”

NOTE: It is unknown at this time how many of the deaths and injuries in Israel on October 7 were caused by Israeli soldiers.

*Previously, IAK did not include 471 Gazans killed in the Al Ahli hospital blast since the source of the projectile was being disputed. However, given that much evidence points to Israel as the culprit, Israel had previously bombed the hospital and has attacked many others, Israel is prohibiting outside experts from investigating the scene, and since the UN and other agencies are including the deaths from the attack in their cumulative totals, if Americans knew is now also doing so.

Find previous daily casualty figures and daily news updates here.

For more news, go here and hereBroadcast news from the region is here.

Hover over each bar for exact numbers.

Enter your email address below to receive our latest articles right in your inbox.