US Military Completes First Round of Food Airdrops Into Southern Gaza

US Military Completes First Round of Food Airdrops Into Southern Gaza
Palestinians run toward parachutes attached to food parcels, air-dropped from U.S. aircrafts on a beach in the Gaza Strip on March 2, 2024. (AFP via Getty Images)

The U.S. military on Saturday began dropping meal bundles over the Gaza Strip, the besieged enclave where supply trucks have been overwhelmed and looted.

Three C-130 cargo planes dropped a total of 66 pallets containing about 38,000 meals ready-to-eat over Gaza, in the first of many upcoming rounds of emergency humanitarian aid authorized by President Joe Biden, a senior administration official said in a press call on Saturday morning.

The pallets were dropped in the southwestern part of the Strip, along its coast of the Mediterranean Sea, according to the official. The locations were specifically chosen to make sure as many people as possible have access to the aid packages.

The airdrop was in coordination with Jordan, which has also conducted airdrops to deliver food to Gaza.

“This will be part of a continuous effort with our international partners to increase the amount of life-saving assistance we can get to Gaza,” the official said, adding that the airdrops “alleviate the suffering of innocent Palestinians who have nothing to do with Hamas.”

“We’re looking at land routes, we’re looking at sea routes, and we’re looking at air routes to make sure we’re exploring every opportunity to get help,” the official told reporters.

When asked whether this operation is related to Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, the official said this has nothing to do with what the Israeli military is doing, but instead is a response to what Palestinian civilians desperately need.

The airdrop is but a part of that process to send humanitarian aid into the war-torn region in “every possible way,” the official told reporters, condemning Hamas terrorists for preventing the Gazans from getting lifesaving supplies by embedding themselves into civilian homes.

President Biden on Friday announced that the airdrops would begin soon during a meeting at the White House alongside the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

“The loss of life is heartbreaking. People are so desperate that innocent people got caught in a terrible war unable to feed their families and you saw the response when they tried to get aid in,” President Biden said.

“We need to do more, and the United States will do more,” he continued. “In the coming days, we’re going to join with our friends in Jordan and others in providing airdrops of additional food and supplies into Ukraine [Gaza] and seek to continue to open up other avenues into Ukraine [Gaza].”

The president’s comments referred to a tragic incident in northern Gaza, where at least 100 Palestinians died and hundreds of others were injured when they descended upon trucks loaded with humanitarian aid.

The exact circumstances surrounding the deaths remain unclear. While several reports suggested Israeli troops fired on the crowd as they rushed to pull goods off the aid convoy, the Israeli military suggested that most deaths and injuries came from the stampede.

“Early this morning, during the entry of humanitarian aid trucks into the northern Gaza Strip, Gazan residents surrounded the trucks, and looted the supplies being delivered,” Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement on Feb. 29. “During the incident, dozens of Gazans were injured as a result of pushing and trampling. The incident is under review.”

The IDF also released a clip of aerial footage, which purportedly shows hundreds of people swarming and climbing onto trucks during the incident.

Hamas, meanwhile, declared that Israel and the Biden administration should be held “fully responsible” for what it described as a “massacre” and for the “ethnic cleansing” of the Palestinian people. The terrorist group called for worldwide demonstrations against Israel’s continued operations in Gaza.

“We have mercy on the souls of our people’s martyrs, and we affirm that their sacrifices and blood will not be in vain and that we will remain loyal to our cause, our land, and our sanctities,” it said in a message posted to Telegram.

Twenty weeks into Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the United Nations has warned that food and safe water there are becoming very scarce to the point that hundreds of thousands of people could be thrown into famine.

On Feb. 20, the UN’s food agency said it had suspended aid deliveries to northern Gaza despite widespread hunger after a convoy of trucks faced gunfire and looting. The World Food Program, an international organization within the UN, resumed deliveries after a three-week halt but reported that its convoy’s journey north “faced complete chaos and violence due to the collapse of civil order.”

“Several trucks were looted between Khan Younes and Deir al Balah and a truck driver was beaten,” the organization said. “The remaining flour was spontaneously distributed off the trucks in Gaza City, amidst high tension and explosive anger.”

From The Epoch Times

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