Gaza receives first airdrop of US humanitarian aid

The US has carried out its first airdrop of aid for Gaza, with more than 30,000 meals parachuted in by three military planes.

The operation was carried out in conjunction with the Royal Jordanian Air Force, US Central Command said.

Officials say the drop was the first of many announced by President Joe Biden on Friday.

He promised to step up aid after at least 112 people were killed as crowds rushed a convoy on Thursday.

C-130s dropped more than 38,000 meals along the coastline of Gaza, US Central Command said in a statement.

“These airdrops are part of a sustained effort to get more aid into Gaza, including by expanding the flow of aid through land corridors and routes,” it added.

Other countries including the UK, France, Egypt and Jordan have previously airdropped aid into Gaza, but this is the first by the US.

In his statement on Friday, President Biden said the US would “insist that Israel facilitate more trucks and more routes to get more and more people the help they need”.

US officials say Israel is supportive of the mission, which is being carefully planned to ensure the safety of those on the ground.

Palestinians wounded in a rush on an aid convoy rest on beds at Al-Shifa hospital in GazaIMAGE SOURCE,REUTERS
Image caption,

Dozens of people are being treated at al-Shifa Hospital following Thursday’s tragedy

Aid agencies have said that airdrops are an inefficient, expensive and complex way of delivering supplies.

The fact the US has opted for this method highlights the severity of the humanitarian crisis and the difficulty of getting aid by road to Gaza’s civilians.

In Thursday’s incident, 112 people were killed and more than 760 injured as they crowded around aid lorries on the southwestern edge of Gaza City.

Hamas accused Israel of firing at civilians, but Israel said most died in a crash after it fired warning shots.

In footage from the scene, volleys of gunfire can be heard and people are seen scrambling over lorries and ducking behind the vehicles.

Georgios Petropoulos, head of the Gaza sub-office of the UN Co-ordinator for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told the BBC that he and a team sent to al-Shifa hospital had found a large number of people with bullet wounds.

Mark Regev, special adviser to the Israeli prime minister, earlier told CNN that Israel had not been involved directly and that the gunfire had come from “Palestinian armed groups”.

Leaders from around the world have called for a full investigation.

The UN’s World Food Programme has warned that a famine is imminent in northern Gaza, which has received very little aid in recent weeks, and where an estimated 300,000 people are living with little food or clean water.

Israel’s military launched a large-scale air and ground campaign to destroy Hamas – which is proscribed as a terrorist organisation by Israel, the UK and others – after its gunmen killed about 1,200 people in southern Israel on 7 October and took 253 back to Gaza as hostages.

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry says more than 30,000 people, including 21,000 children and women, have been killed in Gaza since then with some 7,000 missing and at least 70,450 injured.

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