U.S. military aircraft airdrop thousands of meals into Gaza in emergency humanitarian aid operation

Three planes from Air Forces Central dropped 66 bundles containing about 38,000 meals into Gaza, the first of many announced by President Joe Biden

March 02, 2024 09:01 pm | Updated 10:52 pm IST - Washington

U.S. military carries out its first aid drop over Gaza, amid the ongoing the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Gaza City, March 2, 2024.

U.S. military carries out its first aid drop over Gaza, amid the ongoing the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Gaza City, March 2, 2024. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

U.S. military C-130 cargo planes on March 2 dropped food in pallets over Gaza, three U.S. 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 March 1. The aid will be coordinated with Jordan, which has also conducted airdrops to deliver food to Gaza.

Also Read | UN warns of ‘imminent’ famine on strip

At least 115 Palestinians were killed and hundreds more wounded in the February 29 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 on March 1 that the airdrops were being planned to deliver emergency humanitarian assistance in a safe way to people on the ground.

The C-130 cargo plane is a widely used military jet 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.

Also Read | U.N. says 1 in 6 children are malnourished in north Gaza

Air Force loadmasters secure the bundles onto pallets with netting that is rigged for release in the back of a C-130, and then crews release it with a parachute when the aircraft reaches the intended delivery zone.

The Air Force's C-130 has been used in years past to air drop humanitarian into Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti and other locations and the airframe is used in an annual multi-national “Operation Christmas Drop” that air drops pallets of toys, supplies, nonperishable food and fishing supplies to remote locations in the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau.

Also Read | UN food agency pauses deliveries to the north of Gaza

Since the war began on Oct 7, Israel has barred entry of food, water, medicine and other supplies, except for a trickle of aid entering the south from Egypt at the Rafah crossing and Israel's Kerem Shalom crossing.

The United Nations says a quarter of Gaza's 2.3 million people face starvation. Aid officials have said that airdrops are not an efficient means of distributing aid and are a measure of last resort.

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