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Updated March 3rd, 2024 at 13:06 IST

US Conducts First Airdrop of Humanitarian Aid in Gaza, Delivers 38,000 Meals

Amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, the United States made its first airdrop of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip on Saturday.

Reported by: Bhagyasree Sengupta
Humanitarian aid is dropped by the United States over Gaza City
Humanitarian aid is dropped by the United States over Gaza City | Image:AP
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Gaza – Amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, the United States made its first airdrop of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip on Saturday. The initiative came a day after the US President Joe Biden announced it while holding talks with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. According to US Central Command, the US Air Force conducted a joint operation with the Royal Jordanian Air Force and three cargo planes airdropped 38,000 ready-to-eat meals. The authorities assured that more such missions will be carried out soon. However, many experts criticised the initiative and called it “insufficient and inadequate”. 

“U.S. Central Command and the Royal Jordanian Air Force conducted a combined humanitarian assistance airdrop into Gaza on March 2, 2024, between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. (Gaza time) to provide essential relief to civilians affected by the ongoing conflict. The combined operation included U.S. Air Force and RJAF C-130 aircraft and respective Army Soldiers specialized in aerial delivery of supplies, built bundles and ensured the safe drop of food aid,” CENTCOM said in a statement. “The DoD humanitarian airdrops contribute to ongoing U.S. government efforts to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to the people in Gaza. We are conducting planning for potential follow-on airborne aid delivery missions. 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,” the statment further reads. 

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The initiative came after 112 Palestinians died while collecting aid from humanitarian trucks that arrived in Gaza. According to The New York Times, 66 pallets were dropped over Gaza on Saturday. While giving a media briefing on the matter, the officials also assured that the drop sites that had been chosen for the operation were relatively safe areas where people in Gaza are sheltering. The officials made it clear that the United States did not coordinate its operation with Hamas or any other groups that were operating on the ground. 

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Is the initiative adequate? 

It is important to note that the Jordanian and the French Airforces have already made such drops in the past. The process turned out to be an expensive and uncontrolled way of distributing food in a region which is suffering from a war. However, access to food trucks in Gaza has been limited and far below expectations and requirements. A major testament to this assertion is the fact that hundreds of aid trucks are still stuck at the Gaza border and are unable to proceed properly because of “security concerns”. According to The Guardian, Biden and his administration have been trying unsuccessfully for months to persuade the Benjamin Netanyahu government in Israel to allow aid delivery into Gaza.  

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Meanwhile, many said that Biden's initiative and its inevitable effectiveness will turn out to be humiliating for the United States. “If the US government disavows the use of any meaningful leverage to bring the Gaza conflict to a close, it is left with desperate and inadequate measures like this to try to address the resulting humanitarian catastrophe around the margins,”  Brian Finucane, a former state department lawyer now working at the International Crisis Group, wrote on X, formally known as Twitter. Meanwhile, Robert Ford, a former US ambassador to Algeria and Syria called it “Israel’s worst humiliation of USA". “I've seen Israel humiliate previous US administrations, but aside from murderous 1967 Israeli airstrike against US navy ship Liberty, now forcing USA to do airdrops of aid to Gaza as if USA is no better than Egypt & Jordan is Israel's worst humiliation of USA I've ever seen,” Ford wrote on X. 

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Published March 3rd, 2024 at 08:05 IST

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