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State of the Union

US to build port off Gaza for emergency aid, Biden announces

Biden urged Israel to let more assistance into Gaza, though he still defended its military operation against Hamas.


THE US MILITARY is set to establish a temporary port off Gaza to bring in emergency aid, President Joe Biden announced last night in his annual State of the Union address.

Biden urged Israel to let more assistance into Gaza, though he still defended its military operation against Hamas.

“Tonight, I’m directing the US military to lead an emergency mission to establish a temporary pier in the Mediterranean on the coast of Gaza that can receive large shipments carrying food, water medicine and temporary shelters,” Biden told the joint session of Congress.

“A temporary pier will enable a massive increase in the amount of humanitarian assistance getting in Gaza,” Biden said.

The operation will be led by the US military but will not put US troops on the ground in Gaza, he said.

The aid operation comes after the US has conducted several days of airdrops of aid into Gaza, which were coordinated with Israel.

It is highly rare for such operations to take place in a territory controlled by a US ally and a recipient of US military aid.

“To the leadership of Israel I say this: Humanitarian assistance cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip. Protecting and saving innocent lives has to be a priority,” Biden said.

“As we look to the future, the only real solution to the situation is a two-state solution over time,” he said.

Palestinians in Gaza are facing extreme shortages of food, water and medicine. Experts have warned that the region is facing an imminent threat of famine.

The population of more than two million people is in “crisis”, according to the World Food Programme.


Biden also used the State of the Union address to target political opponent Donald Trump, who Biden accused of being “dangerous” and of “bowing down” to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

“Not since President Lincoln and the Civil War, have freedom and democracy been under assault at home as they are today,” Biden said.

“What makes our moment rare is that freedom and democracy are under attack at both at home and overseas.”

Biden did not reference Trump by name, instead referring to him as his predecessor.

He said Trump’s recent comments in which he indicated he would not commit to supporting all Nato allies were “bowing down to a Russian leader”, Biden said.

Drawing cheers from Democrats in the audience, he vowed: “I will not bow down.”

Trump, 77, currently has a narrow lead over Biden in opinion polls.

However, the former president is facing multiple criminal charges tied to his efforts to overturn his loss in the 2020 presidential election and his refusal to return boxes of classified documents after he left the White House.

Polls indicate that Biden’s age – 81 -  is a top concern for voters.

Biden pushed back on suggestions that he is too old to serve a second term.

“I know it may not look like it, but I’ve been around a while,” he said, drawing laughter. “When you get to be my age certain things become clearer than ever. I know the American story.”

He called the state of the US economy the “greatest comeback story never told”.

“I inherited an economy that was on the brink,” he said, adding that he believed it was now “the envy of the world”.

Additional reporting by AFP

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