The West has lost patience with Israel over aid into Gaza

With Israel still refusing to open up more aid routes into Gaza, and the situation on the ground deteriorating rapidly, the US and Western partners have lost patience and are looking at options to bypass Israel. 

The US proposal to build a pier off Gaza is an imperfect, risky option but would be one way of delivering the large quantities of aid needed.

It would likely take weeks to establish though, and is therefore only a medium-term solution to an immediate crisis.

Middle East latest: Aid ship ‘heading to Gaza today’

Lord David Cameron’s call for Israel to open Ashdod port makes sense, but only if Israel opens a new land crossing in northern Gaza, otherwise the aid would be driven south to Kerem Shalom, near the Egyptian border, and we would be back to square one.

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US to build port to increase Gaza aid

Ashdod is barely 30 minutes’ drive from the Erez Crossing into northern Gaza – Erez was destroyed by Hamas on 7 October, but the Israeli body that controls the borders with Gaza already admitted to Sky News this week that it could open a new border, if the Israeli government gave the order.

Aid could still be checked and scanned in Cyprus, but this way it would be able to enter northern Gaza directly, supplementing the southern crossing and preventing aid convoys from making a perilous journey through Gaza in order to reach northern communities.

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This would seem a more logical and much safer option than the US proposal to build a military pontoon off Gaza, something that would bring great risk to the ships delivering aid and could create chaotic scenes on the ground without an adequate perimeter force in place to secure the area.

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Efforts to dramatically ramp up deliveries have signalled growing frustration across Europe and the US with Israel’s conduct in the war.

Read more from Sky News:
Would a temporary dock help get aid into Gaza?
Biden’s Gaza gamble risks drawing US into war

There are still many questions about the US plan, but with a pledge not to put American boots on the ground in Gaza, there will need to be a force to protect the newly established port and the offloading process.

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Fears of famine in Gaza

The obvious choice would be the IDF, simply because they are already present in large numbers and, in theory at least, have operational control of northern Gaza.

Events last week however, when Gazans going for aid were shot dead by Israeli forces, shows how quickly a tense and chaotic situation can spiral out of control when one side is the invading force and the other is desperate.

The White House will say the US proposal demonstrates American leadership; others will say that the fact it has come to this shows a failure of US leadership – either way, it undoubtedly highlights the US’s inability to persuade its close ally, Israel, to change course.