Middle East Crisis: A Second Day of Aid Airdrops Underscores the Urgency of Gazans’ Need

Jordan ramped up coordination with international partners to airdrop food and other supplies to people in Gaza this week, in a challenging effort that underlined the desperate need in Gaza as aid groups have warned of growing restrictions on their ability to distribute supplies.

Planes from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and France joined a Jordanian airdrop operation along the coast of Gaza on Tuesday, the Jordanian military said in a statement. It was the first time Egypt had airdropped aid to Gaza since the start of the war, and also appeared to be a first for the U.A.E.

Jordanian and French planes also airdropped aid on Monday, releasing ready-made meals and other supplies over several sites in Gaza, the Jordanian military said.

Aid groups typically drop supplies by air only as a last resort, given the inefficiency and relative cost of the method compared with road deliveries, as well as the dangers of navigating air space over a conflict zone and the risk to people who could potentially be hit as supplies fall to the ground if a safe drop zone cannot be established.

Some of the aid delivered on Monday was dropped with parachutes over the sea, but the Jordanian military said some aid was dropped without them on Tuesday, forcing planes to fly at a lower altitude.

Video

Video player loading
Large crowds gathered along the coast in Deir al Balah on Monday as Jordan and France airdropped food and other aid supplies, some of which ended up in the sea.CreditCredit…Alaa Fayad, via X

Despite the limitations of airdrops, France said it was ramping up its work with Jordan because Gaza’s “humanitarian situation is absolutely urgent,” according to a French foreign ministry statement.

“With a growing number of civilians in Gaza dying of hunger and disease,” the statement said, there need to be more avenues for aid deliveries, including the port of Ashdod in Israel, north of Gaza.

Video footage from Monday showed a cluster of parachutes falling into the sea near Deir al Balah, a city in central Gaza. Men in small boats paddled out through choppy water to retrieve the aid, watched by a crowd of hundreds who scrambled for the packages once they had reached the shore.

Alaa Fayad, a veterinary student who shot footage of the scene on the beach that he posted online, said the aid did not amount to much. “It was sad seeing people I know well running and crowding to get aid that’s not nearly enough,” he said.

The French Air Force plane that participated in Monday’s airdrop, alongside three planes from its Jordanian counterpart, dropped more than two tons of food and hygiene supplies, the French foreign ministry said.

That amount is much smaller than what can be carried in a single truckload of supplies, and overall represents just a fraction of what the United Nations says is needed by Gaza’s more than two million residents.

Video

Video player loading
Jordanian planes dropped food and medical supplies with parachutes in central and southern Gaza. People were seen rowing boats to collect aid dropped into the sea.CreditCredit…Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

Jordan began airdropping aid in November and has completed more than a dozen missions since, largely to resupply its field hospitals in Gaza. At least one airdrop mission was jointly carried out with France in January, one with the Netherlands in February, and one with aid supplied by Britain last week.

In previous airdrops, Jordan said it had coordinated its efforts with the Israeli authorities, who have insisted on inspecting all aid entering Gaza. The Israeli military confirmed that it had approved Monday’s airdrop.

Calls for internationally coordinated airdrops have intensified as aid groups simultaneously warn that the hunger crisis in Gaza is reaching a tipping point and that some obstacles to traditional aid distribution have become insurmountable.

Last week, the World Food Program suspended food deliveries to northern Gaza, saying that despite extreme needs there, it could not safely operate amid gunfire and the “collapse of civil order” in recent days. The W.F.P. and other United Nations aid agencies have repeatedly warned that their access to northern Gaza was being systematically impeded by Israeli authorities, calling on the government to ease its restrictions. Israel has denied blocking aid deliveries.

The suspension of W.F.P. deliveries in an area where they are needed most indicates that, despite their many limitations, airdrops may be one of the few viable options remaining to quickly get food to northern Gaza, according to Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib, a Middle East policy analyst who grew up in the enclave. Jordan’s airdrops, he said, have set a “critical precedent” for the feasibility of the approach.

“Simply wishing for a cease-fire or simply wishing for better Israeli cooperation” is not enough, Mr. Fouad Alkhatib said. “We need action right now.”

Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Nader Ibrahim contributed reporting.



This article was originally published by a www.nytimes.com . Read the Original article here. .