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US to Drop Humanitarian Aid into Gaza: How It Can Help and Why It’s So Complicated

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden announced Friday that the United States will begin airdropping much-needed humanitarian aid to Gaza amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

Here’s what you need to know:

WHEN WILL AIRDROPS START?

Biden said the airdrops would be coordinated with Jordan, which has carried out several rounds of airdrops on Gaza in recent months, and would begin in the “coming days.” The first deliveries are expected to be pallets of food – military rations known as MREs – and other aid could eventually follow. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby did not offer a more specific timetable for the airdrops, but said the first round would not be the last.

WHY NOW?

Biden’s decision comes after at least 115 Palestinians were killed and more than 750 others injured on Thursday while trying to access aid in northern Gaza in controversial circumstances, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. led by Hamas. Witnesses said Israeli troops opened fire as huge crowds rushed to remove goods from a humanitarian convoy, while Israel said it only fired when its troops felt threatened and that most civilian casualties were due to trampling.

The United States has been pushing Israel to speed up the flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza and open a third crossing into the territory, but Friday’s violence showed the challenges regardless of the circumstances.

“The loss of life is heartbreaking,” Biden said Friday in announcing his decision to order airdrops. “People are so desperate.”

HOW WILL THE UNITED STATES ENSURE AID ARRIVES WHERE IT IS NEEDED?

Asked how the United States would prevent supplies from falling into the hands of Hamas, Kirby told reporters that the United States would learn during the air operation.

“There are few military operations more complicated than humanitarian aid drops,” he said. Kirby said Pentagon planners will identify drop locations with the goal of delivering aid as close as possible to where it is needed without putting those on the ground in danger from the drops themselves. same.

“The biggest risk is making sure no one gets hurt on the ground,” Kirby said. He said the United States was also considering how air aid would be collected and distributed once on the ground.

WILL THIS MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

The United States believes airdrops will help address the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, but they are no substitute for trucks, which can transport much more aid more efficiently – although Thursday’s events also showed risks linked to land transport. Kirby said airdrops have an advantage over trucks in that planes can get aid to a particular location very quickly. But in terms of volume, airdrops will be “a complement, not a replacement, for moving objects by land.”

WHAT ELSE CAN WE DO?

The United States and its allies have attempted to negotiate a new temporary ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, which would see the release of more hostages held by the militant group in Gaza, the release of some Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons and a prison sentence of up to six weeks. break in fighting. If a ceasefire were achieved, the United States hopes it would allow large amounts of aid to arrive in Gaza over an extended period of time. Biden also said Friday that the United States was working with allies to establish a “maritime corridor” to provide assistance to Gazans from the sea.

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