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A U.S. Air Force plane conducts an airdrop of humanitarian assistance over Gaza. Alamy Stock Photo

Humanitarian aid airdrop kills five people and injures 10 in northern Gaza

Trócaire said today that airdropping aid should be a last resort and that it poses a danger to people on the ground.

A HUMANITARIAN AID airdrop in the north of Gaza killed five people and wounded 10 today, a local medic has said.

The casualties were taken to Gaza City’s Al-Shifa hospital, the emergency room’s head nurse, Mohammed al-Sheikh, told the AFP news agency.

Sheikh said the deadly airdrop occurred north of the coastal Al-Shati refugee camp.

A witness from the camp told AFP he and his brother followed the parachuted aid in the hope of getting “a bag of flour”.

“Then, all of a sudden, the parachute didn’t open and fell down like a rocket on the roof of one of the houses,” said Mohammed al-Ghoul.

“Ten minutes later I saw people transferring three martyrs and others injured, who were staying on the roof of the house where the aid packages fell,” the 50-year-old told AFP.

The United States and Jordan are among the countries to have carried out airdrops in northern Gaza, where hundreds of thousands of people are facing starvation after more than five months of siege, bombardment and invasion by Israeli forces.

The Irish government has also said it will participate in the operation with the cooperation of the Jordanian air force.   

Referring to the five people killed today, the Hamas government media office in Gaza said airdrops were “futile” and “not the best way for aid to enter”.

A Jordanian military source told AFP that the kingdom was not involved in today’s fatal drop.

“The technical defect that caused some parachutes carrying aid not to open and to fall freely to the ground during the airdrop on Gaza on Friday was not from a Jordanian aircraft,” the source said.

“The four Jordanian aircraft that carried out the airdrop in partnership with five other countries carried out its mission without any glitches.”

Last resort

The United Nations has said airdrops or a proposed maritime aid corridor cannot be a substitute for land deliveries, urging more trucks to be permitted to reach Gaza through more border crossings after one of its food delivery convoys was turned back by Israeli soldiers earlier this week.

Getting access to food is highly dangerous in northern Gaza in particular, where the UN had to halt food deliveries because their convoys were coming under fire and civil order has completely collapsed. People are so hungry that they crowd around delivery trucks, leading to chaotic scenes.

Last week countries around the world condemned Israel after its soldiers opened fire on a crowd of people who had descended on an Israeli aid convoy. More than 100 people were killed, according to the Gazan health ministry. 

Trócaire said in a statement today that airdropping aid should be a last resort and that it poses a danger to people on the ground. 

While the charity welcomed Ireland’s commitment to work with Jordan to drop aid into Gaza, it said,”the fact that the international community is left to use an ‘aid workaround’ as a last resort is just unconscionable”.

Trócaire CEO Caoimhe de Barra said: 

“Israel could enable full aid access by road throughout Gaza, but instead it has reduced the number of trucks going into Gaza by 40% in the last month, and blocked humanitarian access to Northern Gaza, where children are now dying of starvation. 

“Leaving aid airdrops as the only option to save lives just further demonstrates and highlights Israel’s intransigence in the face of starvation of civilians in Gaza.  

“Airdrops are the last resort in a humanitarian crisis. They are dangerous, expensive and least likely to reach those most in need and they demonstrate the extent to which Israel is violating international humanitarian law.” 

Avril Benoît, spokesperson for Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), gave the below statement following these announcements:

Commenting on US President Joe Biden’s plan to construct a temporary pier on the Gaza coast to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) spokesperson Avril Benoît described the project as a “glaring distraction”.  

“The US plan for a temporary pier in Gaza to increase the flow of humanitarian aid is a glaring distraction from the real problem: Israel’s indiscriminate and disproportionate military campaign and punishing siege,” she said. 

“The food, water, and medical supplies so desperately needed by people in Gaza are sitting just across the border.”

Includes reporting from AFP

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