Israel Palestine Conflict

Humanitarian airdrops help Israel’s ‘blockade:’ Refugees International chief

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Airdropping aid into Gaza is helping perpetuate Israel’s overall strategy of “blockade” while cementing a narrative that Tel Aviv is cooperating to provide humanitarian assistance in the Palestinian enclave, the President of Refugees International said on Thursday.

Jeremy Konyndyk, a former USAID official, said the amount of aid delivered in airdrops is so “negligible” that it helps “perpetuate the overall blockade strategy.”

“Facilitating airdrops – and driving media coverage around them – gives the public appearance that Israel is cooperating with humanitarian efforts,” said Konyndyk.

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“The fact that they need to be considered is a major policy failure,” he said in a social media post.

The United Kingdom and Jordan airdropped four tons of aid, including medicines, fuel, and food, to Tal Al-Hawa Hospital in northern Gaza on February 21, the British Foreign Office said. The Jordanian Air Force delivered the aid.

President Joe Biden’s administration is also considering airdropping aid from US military planes into Gaza as land deliveries become increasingly tricky, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing a US official.

Israel’s military operation in Gaza has devastated most of the densely populated enclave, killing thousands and displacing nearly all its population, leaving Gazans on the brink of famine. According to UN data, the volume of total humanitarian aid getting into Gaza fell by half in February compared to January.

The Israeli army said: “160 packages of food and medical equipment were airdropped into southern Gaza and the Jordanian field hospital in Khan Younis” as part of a joint mission between Israel, the USA, the UAE, Jordan, Egypt, and France.

Situation ‘unpredictable’

Several safety challenges, including Israeli protestors stopping aid trucks, the frequent closure of crossings, and the looting and storming of humanitarian convoys by “desperate, hungry people,” pose enormous difficulties in getting aid into Gaza via land, according to a UNRWA spokesperson.

“The situation at the Rafah crossing from Egypt into Gaza is also unpredictable. It has been closed intermittently, and supplies have been low on the days when it was open this month,” Jonathan Fowler, the UNRWA spokesperson, told Al Arabiya English.

At least 576,000 people in the Gaza Strip – one-quarter of the population here – are one step away from famine, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Aid groups and humanitarian agencies are facing “overwhelming obstacles just to get a bare minimum of supplies into Gaza, let alone mounting the multisectoral response that would be required to avert a famine.” the UN agency said in a statement on Tuesday.

Read more:

US considers airdropping aid into Gaza as land deliveries slow: Axios

Canada says it's working to airdrop aid to Gaza amid Israel war

Dehydration, malnutrition at Gaza hospitals kill six children

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