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March 07, 2024

Reed, King Support White House Decision to Build Temporary Port in Gaza to Aid Civilians

Chairman Reed and Sen. King, key members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, continue to advocate for greater humanitarian support for Palestinians

WASHINGTON, D.C .– During tonight’s State of the Union Address, President Biden is expected to announce his decision to order the U.S. military to establish a temporary port in Gaza to facilitate more humanitarian aid to Palestinians in need. The decision follows the efforts of Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), and Senator Angus King (I-ME), a senior member of SASC, who recently delivered a letter to President Biden urging his Administration to establish a maritime logistics route to Gaza and deploy a U.S. Navy hospital ship to the region.  

After the White House decision was made public today, Senators Reed and King issued the following statement:

“We strongly support President Biden’s decision to establish a temporary port in Gaza. The civilian suffering in Gaza must be alleviated, and a maritime aid route will enable large quantities of food, shelter, and medical supplies to be delivered to those who need it most. This temporary port, along with the ongoing airdrop campaign, will help ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

“We appreciate the Administration’s continuing work to broker a temporary ceasefire in Gaza, and we urge greater coordination with the Israeli and Egyptian governments to establish broader land-based and maritime logistics routes to ensure civilian access to aid.”

In a letter sent to the White House last week, the Senators make the case that supplying a hospital ship and establishing maritime logistics routes would provide humanitarian relief in a war-torn region, as well as deliver aid ashore to the population there – writing: “one ship could supply a volume of aid equivalent to as many as 800 trucks.”  They also note both France and Indonesia have successfully sent medical vessels to the area, demonstrating that such an endeavor can be done when sufficient precautions are taken.

Full text of the letter follows.


Dear President Biden,

Since Hamas terrorists attacked Israel on October 7, 2023, the United States has played an essential leadership role in supporting our ally, preventing the outbreak of a regional war, aiding in the return of hostages, and facilitating humanitarian relief for civilians in Gaza.  Despite the Administration’s significant efforts, including your continuing work to broker a temporary ceasefire, two million Gazans still face critical shortages in food, shelter, and medical care.

Consequently, we urge you to take additional steps to deliver humanitarian aid by deploying a U.S. Navy hospital ship and support elements to the region, and by working with the Israeli and Egyptian governments to establish maritime logistics routes and ensure civilian access to aid.  In this way, we can expedite the secure delivery of humanitarian relief while reducing the risk of diversion of this aid.

Maritime support is scalable and poses less risk to U.S. personnel than relying solely on land-based operations.  Opening up routes from the sea also expands the logistics network, thereby reducing reliance on constrained land-based routes.  Indeed, one ship could supply a volume of aid equivalent to as many as 800 trucks.

We recognize there are risks to conducting such operations; however, the military has the expertise in managing risk.  Should the risks become unacceptable to military commanders, they have the authority to change or cease operations and report concerns to civilian leadership.  We point out that the military has significant experience in deploying hospital ships worldwide and providing force protection for sea-based assets.  These medical ships can provide needed relief to the civilian population and reaffirm our commitment to seeking peace in the region.

Already, France has successfully docked a hospital ship in Egypt, and Indonesia’s hospital ship just arrived in the region.  We urge you to adopt this approach and demonstrate our country’s commitment to relieving the suffering of those trapped in this conflict.


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