U.S. and Israel deny Gaza humanitarian pier use in Israeli raid as U.N. orders review

U.S. and Israel deny Gaza humanitarian pier use in Israeli raid as U.N. orders review

By: christian haag&
sophie perryer&
June 18 2024

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U.S. and Israel deny Gaza humanitarian pier use in Israeli raid as U.N. orders review

(Source: CENTCOM)

On June 8, 2024, Israeli forces staged a raid to rescue four hostages being held by Hamas in the densely-populated Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza. All the hostages were reportedly kidnapped during the Nova Music festival. Hamas-run health authorities in Gaza say at least 274 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli operation, which European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called a "massacre."   

Following the rescue operation, claims began to circulate that the U.S.-operated humanitarian pier off the coast of Gaza had been used as part of the Israeli operation. Examples of such claims are on Instagram, Facebook, X, TikTok and YouTube.

U.S. and Israeli officials continue to deny that the pier was used. On June 10, the U.N.'s World Food Programme suspended cooperation with the U.S. pier to conduct a security review.

Logically Facts examines the U.S. and Israeli military accounts and subsequent concerns raised by aid organizations below.

U.S. and Israeli denials

In a statement published to its website and X, formerly Twitter, the U.S. Central Command, known as CENTCOM, said: "The humanitarian pier facility, including its equipment, personnel, and assets were not used in the operation to rescue hostages today in Gaza. An area south of the facility was used by the Israelis to safely return the hostages to Israel. Any such claim to the contrary is false. The temporary pier on the coast of Gaza was put in place for one purpose only, to help move additional, urgently needed lifesaving assistance into Gaza.”

CENTCOM is a branch of the U.S. Department of Defense, a government agency. It is responsible for U.S. military operations in the Middle East. The organization’s current responsibilities include assisting in the delivery of aid from the U.S.-constructed humanitarian pier off the coast of Gaza onto shore for onward distribution by aid workers.

Pentagon spokesperson Patrick Ryder stated it was "incidental" that Israel's operation took place near the pier and reiterated that the pier had nothing to do with the operation. As part of an account based on "more than a dozen interviews with former and current Israeli military officials, family members of hostages and Palestinian eyewitnesses," The Washington Post also stated that the helicopter extracting the hostages was close to the pier but not on or connected to it. 

U.S. news network CNN also published footage purportedly showing the Israeli helicopter landing near the pier. It’s unclear how CNN obtained this footage.

Israeli officials also denied that the U.S. pier was used as part of its operation at the Nuseirat refugee camp and said an area near the pier was used to transport the hostages rescued in the operation back to Israel, according to the Associated Press. 

Footage published by an Israeli military correspondent shows a helicopter landing on the beach close to the pier in Gaza. The exact limitations of the area designated for humanitarian operations have not been disclosed, most likely for security reasons. As such, it is unclear whether the Israeli helicopter landed in an area designated for humanitarian operations.  

A U.N. spokesperson raised concerns about the potential implications of an Israeli military operation close to an area designated for humanitarian aid. "Humanitarian aid must not be used and must not be perceived as taking any side in a conflict. The safety of our humanitarian workers depends on all sides and the communities on the ground trusting their impartiality, and that is something we will always try to reinforce," the spokesperson told a press conference on June 12, 2024.

The U.S. humanitarian pier and surrounding area of Gaza coastline, as seen from the air. (Source: CENTCOM)

Intelligence support

The U.S. and the U.K. have both provided intelligence on the location of hostages and top Hamas officials over the course of the war. During the recent rescue operation, a cell of American hostage recovery officials assisted Israel with intelligence and logistical support to rescue the hostages, according to an unnamed U.S. official who spoke with Axios.

However, an Israeli official stated to the New York Times that "neither the American nor British teams were involved in the planning or execution of the military operations to rescue the hostages." U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also stated: "There were no U.S. forces, no U.S. boots on the ground involved in this operation." The extent of U.S. intelligence support for the Israeli operation is, as such, disputed.

U.N. raises concerns

In a post on X on June 10, the U.N.'s World Food Programme (WFP), which delivers humanitarian aid to people in Gaza, said it was "temporarily pausing operations at floating dock for a U.N. security assessment to ensure staff and partners’ safety."

In an interview with CBS News the previous day, WFP’s Executive Director Cindy McCain said operations were paused due to concerns over the safety of aid workers on the ground. She added that two WFP warehouses were struck by rockets, which was part of the justification for the operational pause.

The U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said the organization was examining claims on social media that the U.S. humanitarian pier was used in the Israeli operation. He said such claims, if they transpired to be true, would "put at risk any future humanitarian engagement in that operation."

The scope of this investigation is internal to the U.N. Therefore, any details released on its methodology or findings will be at the U.N.'s discretion. The U.N. has not yet drawn any conclusion on allegations of U.S. involvement as its investigation is ongoing. As future conclusions of an ongoing investigation are outside the scope of fact-checking, this article will be updated with the results of the U.N. investigation if and when they are made public.

Editor's note: This article is an updated and expanded version of a fact-check we previously published on June 13, 2024, on claims over the alleged use of the U.S. humanitarian pier in the Israeli hostage rescue operation at Nuseirat refugee camp on June 8, 2024. It was updated and expanded on June 18, 2024, to include details of the U.N.'s security review at the pier in the wake of the Israeli military operation and to reflect the disputed nature of the incident.

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