Fri | Apr 12, 2024

US military aircraft airdrop thousands of meals into Gaza in emergency humanitarian aid operation

Published:Saturday | March 2, 2024 | 10:25 AM
President Joe Biden walks towards members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, March 1, 2024, to travel to Camp David, Md., for the weekend. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — United States military C-130 cargo planes on Saturday dropped food in pallets over Gaza, three US officials said, two days after more than 100 Palestinians who had surged to pull goods off an aid convoy were killed during a chaotic encounter with Israeli troops.

Three planes from Air Forces Central dropped 66 bundles containing about 38,000 meals into Gaza at 8:30 a.m. EST, according to two of the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity before a public announcement.

The airdrop is expected to be the first of many announced by President Joe Biden on Friday.

The aid will be coordinated with Jordan, which has also conducted airdrops to deliver food to Gaza.

At least 115 Palestinians were killed and hundreds more wounded in the Thursday attack as they scrambled for aid, the Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza said.

Israel says many of the dead were trampled in a chaotic crush for the food aid, and its troops fired warning shots after the crowd moved toward them in a threatening way.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said Friday that the airdrops were being planned to deliver emergency humanitarian assistance in a safe way to people on the ground.

The United States believes the airdrops will help address the dire situation in Gaza, but they are no replacement for trucks, which can transport far more aid more effectively, though Thursday's events also showed the risks with ground transport.

Kirby said the airdrops have an advantage over trucks because planes can move aid to a particular location very quickly. But in terms of volume, the airdrops will be “a supplement to, not a replacement for moving things in by ground.”

The C-130 is a widely used cargo plane to deliver aid to remote places due to its ability to land in austere environments and cargo capacity.

A C-130 can airlift as much as 42,000 pounds of cargo and its crews know how to rig the cargo, which sometimes can include even vehicles, onto massive pallets can be safely dropped out of the back of the aircraft.

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