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A U.S. Air Force loadmaster releases humanitarian aid pallets of food and water over Gaza, on Saturday. Alamy Stock Photo
Irish Aid

Planning underway for Ireland to provide aid for international air drops into Gaza

Department of Foreign Affairs officials in the Middle East are involved in the operation and it is believed they have requested some military assistance.

IRELAND IS PREPARING to join an international operation to drop aid into Gaza, sources have said.

The Journal has learned that preparations are at an advanced stage for Ireland to participate in the air drop. The humanitarian aid will not be dropped by Irish aircraft as the Irish Air Corps do not possess the strategic airlift capability but instead will see Irish officials embed with other international partners.  

Department of Foreign Affairs officials in the Middle East are involved in the operation and it is believed they have requested some military assistance.

The drop would see Irish aid being placed on board aircraft either from the United States, Britain or a European partner and dropped into blockaded Gaza. 

One source described the operation as being similar to an Emergency Civil Assistance Team mission, which has previously taken place in Sudan last year and Afghanistan in 2021.

It is understood that the UK’s Royal Air Forces has already dropped aid into the war ravaged country.

News of Ireland’s participation comes after Saturday’s when the United States began air-dropping aid into Gaza, as the territory’s health ministry reported more than a dozen child malnutrition deaths.

The start of the US relief operation came hours after President Joe Biden announced the move and spoke of the “need to do more” after nearly five months of devastating conflict.

It also comes as negotiations continue for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which has been under siege since Hamas’s 7 October attacks on Israel.

Qatari and Egyptian mediators met with US and Hamas envoys — but no Israeli delegates so far — in Cairo for a second day of talks aiming for a halt in fighting before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan starts on 10 or 11 March.

The Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson confirmed that they had discussed the possibility of participating in such an air drop with Jordan.

“Ireland is open to considering the option of airdrops of humanitarian assistance, and this is among several issues that have been raised in recent contacts at political and official level between Ireland and Jordan.

“However, such initiatives must not distract from the urgent need to dramatically scale up the level of humanitarian assistance entering Gaza by land,” the spokesperson said. 

The spokesperson said that the International Court of Justice “made clear” in its order for provisional measures on 26 January that Israel must take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance in Gaza.

“That was more than a month ago; since that time, humanitarian assistance entering Gaza by land has halved and WFP and UNRWA have had to withdraw from distributing aid in Northern Gaza given the deterioration of the security situation.

“Under international humanitarian law, Israel has the responsibility to protect civilians in Gaza and to ensure that the essential needs of the population there are met.

“Full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and massive scale up in humanitarian aid is Ireland’s priority, and is the priority of all humanitarian actors on the ground, and must remain our primary focus,” the spokesperson said. 

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