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The United States drops humanitarian aid to Gaza from the air for the first time

2024-03-02T19:44:03.146Z

Highlights: The United States drops humanitarian aid to Gaza from the air for the first time. The measure comes two days after the convoy tragedy that left more than 100 dead. More than 38,000 food rations along the Mediterranean coast were transported by C-130 military aircraft. Israel controls Gaza's airspace (it already did before the war), so any delivery of humanitarian aid requires its green light, just as it does with what enters by land from Egypt. The United States' decision is not only a recognition of the seriousness of the situation, also a failure.


The measure comes two days after the convoy tragedy that left more than 100 dead and highlighted the hunger suffered by civilians in the Strip. Borrell recalls that the air route “should be the solution of last resort”


“We do not yet know the details of what has happened, but what we do know at the moment is that it appears that civilians have been injured and killed trying to obtain food for their severely malnourished children.

"That can't happen."

Samantha Power, the head of the United States Department of Humanitarian Aid (USAID), was in the West Bank city of Ramallah this Thursday, analyzing the humanitarian crisis in the Strip, when the images and contradictory versions about the death of more than 100 began. people around an aid convoy.

At the press conference, he refused to go into what remains unclear – how many unarmed civilians were shot by Israeli soldiers (who felt threatened when they approached the tanks, according to the Israeli army's version) and how many crushed by trucks – , but rather it went to the context: all of them were chasing the convoy because they are hungry, and that is not the result of a natural disaster.

Two days later, this Saturday, the United States dropped humanitarian aid on Gaza from the air for the first time.

There have been more than 38,000 food rations along the Mediterranean coast, which were transported by C-130 military aircraft, the United States Central Command (Centcom) has reported.

“They are part of an ongoing effort to introduce more aid into Gaza, including increasing the flow of aid through land corridors and roads,” he said.

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War between Israel and Gaza, live

It has been in cooperation with the Jordanian Armed Forces, another of the countries that has been resorting to air travel in recent weeks, such as Egypt, the United Arab Emirates or France.

Israel controls Gaza's airspace (it already did before the war), so any delivery of humanitarian aid requires its green light, just as it does with what enters by land from Egypt.

The United States' decision is not only a recognition of the seriousness of the situation.

Also a failure.

From the need for an emergency shortcut in the face of Israeli restrictions and the bottleneck in the entry and distribution of aid by land, which has been developing for different reasons, until last week the average number of trucks per day was reduced to 97 It is half that in January and 400 fewer than those that humanitarian organizations consider essential to confront the humanitarian crisis.

Power herself admitted it in Ramallah: “I want to be clear.

"This is not about increasing the daily number of trucks by five or ten, but rather flooding the aid area with enormous amounts of food, medicine and shelter to the people who need it."

US military prepares humanitarian aid, at an undisclosed location in Central Command, this Friday.Tech.

Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal (via REUTERS)

Jeremy Konyndyk, president of Refugees International, an American NGO dedicated to supporting displaced people, refugees and stateless people, does not criticize the use of air travel, but rather "why it is done."

“It is a reflection of the number of obstructions placed by the Israeli government to the entry of aid,” he says by phone.

Konyndyk, who directed USAID's humanitarian division under Barack Obama's government, remembers that he himself approved such discharges in other crises, when it was impossible or very expensive to distribute aid by land.

But he insists that it must be the “last resort” and, for technical reasons, not because Israel has made it “almost impossible” to introduce it by other means.

This Saturday's shipment, he adds, only represents "a part of the daily caloric intake for a part of the population."

The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, has expressed himself in a similar sense.

“Airdrops should be the solution of last resort, because their impact is minimal and not without risks for civilians,” he said in a statement.

Borrell has condemned “the restrictions imposed by Israel on the entry of humanitarian aid and the opening of border points” and has urged it to “immediately remove the obstacles at the Kerem Shalom crossing [where it is inspected], open access at the north to the Karni and Erez crossings, open the port of Ashdod to humanitarian aid and allow a direct humanitarian corridor from Jordan.”

Israel blames the bottleneck on the UN's inefficiency in introducing and distributing aid.

Row of trucks

In Egypt, an endless line of trucks waits for days to receive the green light to cross.

It is the only country from which aid comes in.

For political reasons, Israel keeps closed the natural point where it did so before the war: the port of Ashdod, 40 kilometers from the Strip.

Several factors come together at the bottleneck.

On the one hand, they only open two crossings and at a certain time.

In another, Israel carries out a thorough inspection of the shipments, fearing that the aid will benefit Hamas.

In fact, it rejects the entry of material (medical, for example) that it considers to have potentially weapons use.

Once inside, the UN and NGOs have difficulties getting the trucks escorted or storing aid (some warehouses have been bombed; others house displaced people).

Both hungry citizens and mafias seeking to resell them on the market are raiding the convoys.

And advancing is painful, due to the immense destruction of the roads caused by the army's advance.

The truck tragedy, one of the most shocking episodes in the almost five months of war in Gaza, "underscores the urgency of concluding negotiations as soon as possible and increasing the flow of humanitarian assistance to Gaza," according to the president of the United States. , Joe Biden, and Arab leaders in a meeting that same day, the White House said.

The negotiations he mentions are those that Israel and Hamas are holding to agree on a second exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners and an increase in humanitarian aid during a six-week truce.

This Sunday there will be a meeting in Egypt, one of the mediating countries.

His Foreign Minister, Sameh Shukry, expressed his hope this Saturday of closing an agreement next week, before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins.

“Everyone is aware that we have a limited time to be successful before Ramadan begins,” Shukry said at a forum in Turkey.

It is the consensus that has been forged in recent days: the agreement must be closed before Ramadan, which begins this year on March 10 or 11.

They are dates characterized by joy, in which the streets are filled at night - after the breaking of the fast - with people, food and sweets.

It would be a perfect time to give Gaza a pause in the bombings and forced displacement, and an extra bit of humanitarian aid;

and to the West Bank and East Jerusalem, images of released prisoners hugging their families again.

There is also another look at Ramadan.

It is what worries Israel and drives it to accelerate the negotiations.

This is also when tensions tend to surface in the Middle East.

And this year there are many accumulated.

Already last year, there was the (then) largest rocket launch against Israel from Lebanon since the 2006 war with Hezbollah, after the police twice violently penetrated a place as important for Muslims as the Al Mosque. Aqsa, in Jerusalem.

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Source: elparis

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