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US military to airdrop humanitarian aid into Gaza

US military to airdrop humanitarian aid into Gaza

The U.S. will airdrop humanitarian aid into Gaza in the coming days, amid tense negotiations for a pause in the fighting between Israel and Hamas, President Joe Biden announced Friday.

The mission is designed to increase the flow of humanitarian assistance into Gaza as Palestinians struggle to get food, water, medicine and other aid during the Israel-Hamas war in the enclave.

Biden, who made the announcement alongside Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni, complained that Israel didn’t allow enough aid to enter Gaza.

“The truth is, aid flowing into Gaza is nowhere nearly enough now. It’s nowhere nearly enough. Innocent lives are on the line and children’s lives are on the line,” he said. “We should be getting hundreds of trucks in, not just several.”

Speaking of the airdrops, Biden added, “we’re going to pull out every stop we can.” The president also occasionally said “Ukraine” when he meant to say “Gaza” regarding the location of the airdrops.

A Pentagon spokesperson could not immediately provide additional details about when the airdrops would occur, what aircraft would be used or what type of aid would be provided. As the idea gained steam over recent days, analysts noted aircraft can’t carry as many materials as a convoy of trucks or ships.

The announcement comes a day after dozens of Palestinians were killed while scrambling for aid in Gaza, which prompted a fresh push for a cease-fire and renewed criticism of Israel. Gazan health officials say that Israeli troops fired into the crowd, killing more than 100 people and injuring some 700 more. The U.S. is also working to broker a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas that could see fighting pause for six weeks.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has called on the Biden administration to change its approach toward the war, demanded the administration begin airdrops as soon as possible. “The United States must immediately begin to airdrop food, water, and other lifesaving supplies into Gaza,” he said in a written statement Friday afternoon.

Sanders also demanded Israel open its borders to allow humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza — and said the U.S. should make clear that “failure to do so immediately will lead to a fundamental break in the U.S.-Israeli relationship and the immediate halt of all military aid.”

“While an airdrop will buy time and save lives, there is no substitute for sustained ground deliveries of what is needed to sustain life in Gaza. Israel MUST open the borders and allow the United Nations to deliver supplies in sufficient quantities,” he said.

Former humanitarian officials still have questions about how the U.S. will do this. Dave Harden, who distributed assistance while at the United States Agency for International Development, said high-altitude drops can be dangerous to civilians while low-altitude drops can be perilous for the aircraft and crew. They are also no substitutes for pushing Israel to allow more aid to flow through entry points.

“Air drops are a bad idea, unlikely to blunt the tragedy in Gaza, and likely to create more risk for the US and civilians in Gazans. The Biden administration senior officials know this risk. Air drops are a symbol of massive failure,” he posted on social media.

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