A maritime corridor to help Gazans. During his State of the Union address on March 6, the President of the United States announced that he was ordering his army to conduct an “emergency mission” to establish a temporary port in the Gaza Strip. The objective is to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid, while the 2.5 million people confined there are threatened by increasing famine. Humanitarian aid “cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip,” Joe Biden once again insisted. The European Union immediately announced its support for this operation.

The objective of this “temporary port” is to accommodate “large ships carrying food, water, medicine and temporary shelter,” the President of the United States further said. Concretely, the humanitarian aid will be shipped from the port of Larnaca, in Cyprus, by boat. It will then be unloaded some 400 kilometers to the South, in the Gazan enclave, on the docks of a temporary construction assembled on board the transit boats. This construction would then allow hundreds of trucks to supply the enclave every day via this floating jetty.

The proposal to establish a maritime corridor had already been put forward by Cyprus in December 2023, without Israel taking any concrete action. The situation has changed with the catastrophic deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Humanitarian aid currently reaching the area is mainly transported by land. The convoys that circulate there, however, are not numerous enough and are regularly attacked or hijacked by criminal gangs. On February 29, several dozen starving Palestinians were killed during a hunger riot during which the Israeli army opened fire on the crowd.

According to Cogat, the branch of the Israeli army in charge of the administration of the Occupied Territories, which manages the entry of convoys into the Gaza Strip, only 126 trucks were able to enter the Gaza Strip on March 1. NGOs estimate that around 500 per day would be needed to meet the basic needs of Gazans. Air drops of food are also organized, but they are considered ineffective by aid professionals.

This technical solution, which would then make it possible to transport more trucks without requiring a “ground deployment of American troops”, insisted Joe Biden, “would change the situation in the humanitarian situation”, points out the doctor in political science. David Rigoulet-Roze. The operation allows the Americans to put “pressure on Israel”, the specialist further analyzes, while Joe Biden has been calling for the establishment of an immediate ceasefire for several weeks.

The effectiveness of such a measure, however, remains to be demonstrated, while the key issue remains the equitable delivery of these provisions to Gazans, “which remains a prerogative of the Jewish state,” according to the researcher. Israeli controls and repeated looting are currently slowing down food distribution.

The initiative also has a strong geopolitical dimension: it would be the first time in twenty years that boats would enter the territorial waters of the enclave since Hamas came to power. “The United States would then be in Gazan territorial waters, which de facto represents a break in the Israeli blockade,” points out David Rigoulet-Roze. The Jewish State cannot, however, oppose this American initiative, given the humanitarian situation.

This American intervention is part of the Anglo-Saxon “thalassocratic culture”, says the specialist. “All things being equal, this is reminiscent of the artificial bridges of 1944 and the American capacity to project land infrastructure at sea,” he continues, in reference to the bridges prefabricated by the United States in June 1944 to allow the Allies to be supplied in the days following the Normandy landings.

Such an initiative also takes an eminently political turn with the approach of the American presidential election, adds the researcher. “Joe Biden must mobilize his troops in view of the presidential election in November 2024. He cannot afford the abstention of certain Democratic voters – like in Michigan – during the next votes for the primaries, which could cost him dearly. » Clearly, the president is seeking to prove that he supports Israel, “but not under any conditions.”