Biden announces US will airdrop aid into Gaza amid ever-deteriorating humanitarian crisis

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Palestinians run along a street as humanitarian aid is airdropped in Gaza City on March 1, 2024 (AFP)
Palestinians run along a street as humanitarian aid is airdropped in Gaza City on March 1, 2024 (AFP)

US President Joe Biden announces that the US military will soon airdrop humanitarian aid into Gaza amid the ever-deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the enclave.

“People are so desperate that innocent people got caught in a terrible war unable to feed their families and you saw the response when they tried to get aid in,” Biden tells reporters while sitting alongside Italian President Giorgia Meloni ahead of their Oval Office meeting.

“The United States will do more and in the coming days, we are going to join with our friends from Jordan and others to provide airdrops of supplies into Ukraine and seek to open up other avenues into Ukraine, including the possibility of a marine corridor delivering large amounts of humanitarian assistance,” Biden says, mistaking Gaza for Ukraine. The White House later confirms that he was referring to Gaza, not Ukraine.

Simultaneously, Washington will continue to work to secure a truce between Israel and Hamas that would allow for the release of the hostages and the entry of more humanitarian aid into Gaza, Biden says.

“Hopefully we will know shortly…. We are trying to work out a deal between Israel and Hamas — the hostages being returned and the immediate ceasefire in Gaza for at least the next six weeks, and to allow the surge of aid to the entire Gaza Strip, not just the south.”

Biden’s announcement comes a day after a deadly stampede took place surrounding a humanitarian aid convoy in northern Gaza where an administrative vacuum appears to be growing since Israel dismantled Hamas’s military infrastructure in the earlier months of the war.

Biden says he’d discuss with Meloni “the Middle East and yesterday’s tragic and alarming event in north Gaza, trying to get humanitarian assistance in there… The loss of life is heartbreaking.”

US President Joe Biden meets Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, March 1, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Airdrops have been a preferred source of aid delivery for several countries, including Jordan, whose king has even personally participated in such widely publicized operations.

But their impact is limited, as it is difficult to control the exact location where the aid will land. The volume of such deliveries also only amount to a truckload or two, making ground convoys a far more impactful method of delivery.

However, truck convoys have decreased substantially in recent weeks as law and order breaks down in Gaza. Hamas police have refused to secure convoys after Israeli troops have shot dead nearly a dozen officers, deeming them legitimate targets.

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