France and Jordan airdrop aid to Gaza as UN says Strip has become ‘uninhabitable’

Macron hails ‘complex operation’ bringing seven tons of supplies to enclave; UN humanitarian chief says public health system collapsing, famine on horizon after 3 months of war

An airdrop of humanitarian aid to Gaza by Jordan and France on January 4, 2024. (Emmanuel Macron/X)
An airdrop of humanitarian aid to Gaza by Jordan and France on January 4, 2024. (Emmanuel Macron/X)

France and Jordan teamed up to airdrop seven tons of aid to civilians and aid workers in Gaza, French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday, as Israel continued its offensive to eliminate the terror group from the Strip.

“In a difficult context, France and Jordan delivered aid by air to the population and those aiding them,” Macron wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

“The humanitarian situation remains critical in Gaza” after three months of conflict, he added.

The French leader posted a photograph of an airman standing on the cargo ramp of a military plane, with parachutes visible in the sky below.

Macron’s office said the “extremely complex operation” took place late Thursday, saying it had been made possible by close ties between the French and Jordanian militaries.

Each nation sent a C-130 transport plane with mixed French-Jordanian crews, bringing a total of seven tons of “humanitarian and health” aid, the presidency said.

The supplies dropped by France and Jordan were equipped with systems that remotely guided them to a Jordanian field hospital operating in the territory, the French presidency said.

Thursday’s mission “allows us to show that such operations are possible,” the Elysee added, without saying whether it would be repeated.

Jordan has previously carried out air drops in Gaza, with the moves coordinated with the Israeli military.

War broke out following the Hamas terror group’s October 7 massacres, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from Gaza, killing some 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and seizing over 240 hostages, mostly civilians.

In response, Israel vowed to destroy Hamas and launched a wide-scale military campaign in Gaza aimed at destroying the group’s military and governance capabilities.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said Thursday at least 22,600 people have been killed in the Strip since the war erupted on October 7. The Hamas figure does not differentiate between civilians and combatants and includes Palestinians killed by errant rocket fire from Gaza. Israel says it has killed 8,500 terrorists since launching the war.

The United Nations estimates that 1.9 million Gazans — 85 percent of the pre-war population — have been displaced as Israel urged civilians to leave area where there was fighting. There are shortages of food, water, fuel, and medicines despite efforts to bring in larger amounts of aid.

The UN’s humanitarian chief said Friday that Gaza has become “uninhabitable” three months after Hamas’s horrific attacks against Israel and “a public health disaster is unfolding.”

File: Members of the Abu Jarad family, who were displaced by the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, bake bread at a makeshift tent camp in the Muwasi area, southern Gaza, January 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

Martin Griffiths said in a statement that “people are facing the highest levels of food insecurity ever recorded (and) famine is around the corner.”

And Gazans are “witnessing daily threats to their very existence – while the world watches on,” he said.

The UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs said families are sleeping in the open as temperatures plummet, and areas where Palestinians were told to relocate have been bombed.

The few partially functioning hospitals are overwhelmed and critically short of supplies, infectious diseases are spreading, and amidst the chaos some 180 Palestinian women are giving birth every day, he said.

Griffiths reiterated UN demands for an immediate end to the war and the release of all hostages, declaring, “It is time for the international community to use all its influence to make this happen.”

He said the humanitarian community is facing an “impossible mission” of supporting more than 2 million people in Gaza while aid workers are killed, communications blackouts continue, roads are damaged, truck convoys are shot at, and vital commercial supplies “are almost non-existent.”

Gaza has shown “the worst of humanity,” Griffiths said, and it’s long past time for the war to end.

Israel has accused the UN of failing to facilitate an increase in aid trucks entering Gaza.

The IDF said last month it believes the humanitarian situation in Gaza is reasonable given the circumstances, and wishes to avoid a major crisis that would harm Israel’s legitimacy to continue its operations in the Strip.

Israel has shown evidence of Hamas stealing some of the humanitarian aid meant for Gazan civilians.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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