US poised to increase frequency of airdropping operations

According to the United Nations, the amount of aid reaching the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave dropped by half this month.

By Joshua Marks, JNS

The White House is considering airdropping humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip as ground-based deliveries have become increasingly difficult, Axios reported on Wednesday, citing four U.S. officials.

“The situation is really bad. We are unable to get enough aid [in] by truck so we need desperate measures like airdrops,” a U.S. official told the American news site.

According to the United Nations, the amount of aid reaching the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave dropped by half this month.

Hamas is hijacking upwards of 60% of the humanitarian aid entering the Strip, according to Israel.

Canada is working to airdrop humanitarian aid into Gaza as soon as possible, a cabinet minister in Ottawa confirmed to the Associated Press on Wednesday.

A multinational operation involving Israel, Egypt, France, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and the United States saw 160 packages of food and medical equipment air-dopped into southern Gaza on Tuesday, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The aid was intended for the residents sheltered there and also for the Jordanian field hospital in Khan Yunis, where Israeli forces have been working for more than a month to dismantle Hamas’s terror battalions there before heading to the last Hamas bastion of Rafah on the Egyptian border, where the terror group’s last remaining battalions are concentrated.

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It was delivered at 17 points along the southern Gaza coastline using American, Egyptian, Emirati, French and Jordanian planes.

Humanitarian aid is dropped into the southern Gaza Strip as part of a multinational operation on Feb. 27, 2024. Credit: IDF.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with current U.N. coordinator for humanitarian aid to Gaza Sigrid Kaag at his office in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister’s Office described the meeting with the former deputy prime minister of the Netherlands as “constructive.” According to the statement, they discussed “some of the current challenges in the region and possible policies to confront them.”

Netanyahu also met on Wednesday with USAID Administrator Samantha Power. The Biden administration official is in the region to discuss getting aid to Gaza. She also met with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew.

While in Jordan, Power announced that the Biden administration will provide an additional $53 million in humanitarian assistance for Palestinians in Gaza and Judea and Samaria.

Israel will start transferring humanitarian supplies directly to the northern Gaza Strip to bypass the Hamas terrorist group, the War Cabinet decided on Feb. 24.

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In the coming days, trucks carrying supplies bound for the parts of Gaza already conquered by Israeli forces will enter near the Karni crossing at the northeastern end of the Strip, which was permanently closed in 2011.

On Dec. 15, Israel’s Security Cabinet approved the opening of the Kerem Shalom crossing for the transfer of aid to the Strip after intense U.S. and international pressure. All the Israeli crossings to Gaza had been shuttered after the Oct. 7 massacre, with only Egypt’s Rafah crossing from Sinai remaining open.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is suspending aid deliveries to northern Gaza via Egypt’s Rafah crossing, the Guardian reported on Feb. 24.

“The desperate behavior of hungry and exhausted people is preventing the safe and regular passage of our trucks,” Tamara Alrifai, director of external relations for UNRWA, told the British newspaper.

Sporadic protests have taken place over the past two months at Kerem Shalom in an attempt to block the entry of aid into Gaza, with protesters arguing that most of the aid is being stolen by Hamas.

Activists have also attempted to block the aid trucks at the smaller Nitzana crossing to Sinai and at the Ashdod port.

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Clashes broke out between Israeli security personnel and protesters at the Kerem Shalom crossing to Gaza on Feb. 22, with one of the demonstrators reportedly injured by security forces.