'We expect to see much more aid reaching northern Gaza'

After deadly aid incident, Israel to try new methods of delivery to north Gaza this week

Official says convoys could be secured by IDF and enter from northern Israel-Gaza border, days after dozens die as crowd swarms trucks delivering food, medicine

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Workers unload bags of humanitarian aid that entered Gaza by truck through the Israel's Kerem Shalom Crossing on February 17, 2024, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)
Workers unload bags of humanitarian aid that entered Gaza by truck through the Israel's Kerem Shalom Crossing on February 17, 2024, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

Following Thursday’s deadly melee in Gaza City surrounding an aid convoy, Israel will try new solutions for delivering humanitarian supplies to northern Gaza this week, an Israeli official told The Times of Israel on Sunday.

One option is for convoys to be secured by IDF forces without handing over to local guards, according to the official.

Entering the Gaza Strip through its northern border with Israel, instead of sending the convoy through Kerem Shalom in the south, is also a possibility. Up to this point, trucks have been checked at southern crossings, from which they then must make their way across an active war zone to reach the northern part of the Strip.

“We expect to see much more humanitarian aid reaching northern Gaza,” said the official.

Dozens of Palestinians died and hundreds more were wounded amid chaos surrounding an aid convoy in norhern Gaza on Thursday, an incident that has drawn condemnations and calls for an international inquiry.

Hamas claims at least 118 were killed. It accused Israeli troops of shooting at the crowd of thousands, while the IDF maintains many of the casualties were trampled in a chaotic crush for the aid, and that troops only fired at a few individuals who rushed toward them in a threatening manner.

Bodies are wrapped in white shrouds on the ground outside Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, February 29, 2024, after a deadly melee around an aid convoy. (AP Photo)

“We are investigating this incident, we have all the footage we need to complete an exhaustive investigation and find out the truth of the facts of this incident, and we will present the findings,” IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said at a press conference Saturday.

“This was a humanitarian operation we conducted, and the claim that we intentionally struck the convoy and intentionally harmed people is baseless,” he added.

Hagari said the aid delivery Thursday was the fourth such operation in that area in Gaza City.

On Saturday, US military C-130 cargo planes dropped food in pallets over Gaza.

A US Air Force cargo plane heads for an airdrop of aid over Gaza, March 2, 2024. (US Central Command photo)

Three planes dropped 66 bundles containing about 38,000 meals into Gaza at 3:30 p.m. local time.

The airdrop was announced by US Central Command (CENTCOM), which said it and the Royal Jordanian Air Force “conducted a combined humanitarian assistance airdrop into Gaza… to provide essential relief to civilians affected by the ongoing conflict.”

The airdrop is expected to be the first of many announced by US President Joe Biden on Friday in the wake of the deadly incident the day before. CENTCOM said it was planning for further such airdrops as “part of a sustained effort to get more aid into Gaza, including by expanding the flow of aid through land corridors and routes.”

The delivery of aid to Gaza has been a point of contention in the devastating five-month war, triggered by the unprecedented shock Hamas attack on October 7, when thousands of terrorists rampaged through southern Israeli communities, killing some 1,200 people and taking 253 hostages.

Israel, which checks all trucks entering Gaza from both the Kerem Shalom and Rafah crossings, has blamed the United Nations for not delivering the aid fast enough after they are cleared, and for leading to a general fall-off in deliveries over the past month.

Palestinians line up for free food in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. An estimated 1.5 million Palestinians displaced by the war took refuge in Rafahor, which is likely Israel’s next focus in its war against Hamas. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

The UN has said it is becoming more difficult to distribute aid inside Gaza. The flow of aid from Egypt has almost dried up in the past two weeks, and a collapse in security has made it increasingly difficult to distribute the food that does get through, according to UN data and officials.

While more trucks have arrived through Kerem Shalom, they have, of late, been disrupted by relatives of Israeli hostages and protesters seeking to block deliveries. Israel has repeatedly said it is prepared to speed up the clearance of aid.

The UN 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.

Before the war with Hamas, Gaza relied on 500 trucks with supplies entering daily.

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