U.S. Makes First Airdrop of Food Into Gaza

The United States made its first airdrop of humanitarian aid into Gaza on Saturday in partnership with Jordan, as the Biden administration tries to prevent a greater humanitarian disaster amid frustration with Israel.

U.S. planes conducted the airdrop along with the Jordanian Air Force, the U.S. Central Command said in a statement on Saturday.

The airdrops contribute “to ongoing U.S. government efforts to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to the people in Gaza,” the statement said. “We are conducting planning for potential follow-on airborne aid delivery missions.”

Three U.S. Air Force cargo planes airdropped 66 pallets over southwest Gaza, according to a U.S. official. The pallets contained 38,000 ready-to-eat meals.

The drops come a day after President Biden said the United States would find new ways to get aid to Palestinians in desperate need because of Israel’s five-month military campaign to destroy Hamas. It also comes two days after more than 100 Palestinians were killed as Israeli forces opened fire around a convoy of aid trucks in northern Gaza.

U.S. officials said the incident showed the desperation Palestinians in Gaza face and that the ground convoys Israel has allowed into the territory are not providing sufficient relief. But they caution that airdrops cannot move supplies at the scale of convoys — even big military cargo planes, like the C-130s used on Saturday, can carry only a fraction of the supplies that a truck convoy can. In addition, aid dropped on the ground is difficult to secure and distribute in an orderly way.

Their top goal, the officials said, is to negotiate a pause in fighting that would allow far more truck traffic to enter.

It was not clear when the next airdrop might be, as poor weather was forecast for Gaza on Sunday.

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