Israel Palestine Conflict

Belgium sends military transporter to airdrop aid into Gaza

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Belgium on Monday sent a military transport plane to join an international operation to drop aid in war-ravaged Gaza also involving the United States, France and Jordan, officials said.

The aid was taken to Jordan, where Jordanian officials were to inspect it before seeking an Israeli green light for an airdrop, which was to take place on Wednesday at the earliest, according to the Belgian defense ministry.

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“We are not deciding when we go in. We are being told when we can go in and we will abide by that,” said Colonel Bruno Beeckmans, the commander of the air base outside Brussels from where the aircraft took off.

“It’s absolutely a no-go fly zone because it’s a war zone. So we need to be precisely coordinated,” he told AFP.

The military Airbus A400M transporter was to make another flight from Brussels to Jordan’s Zarqa air base outside Amman, to take in more aid and personnel for the drop.

Zarqa has been a hub for what Belgian Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder said was a “humanitarian coalition for Palestine.”

Jordan has conducted at least 16 air drops of aid into Gaza since the war broke out on October 7. One was made with a French military plane.

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The United States -- Israel’s staunchest ally -- began air-dropping aid on Saturday into Gaza, which has faced relentless bombardment by Israel since Hamas launched its cross-border attack on October 7.

The US air drop saw heavy pallets parachuted into the water off a Gaza beach thronged with people.

Beecksman told journalists that was done for safety reasons, to avoid hitting people on land, but that Palestinian authorities did not want air drops into the water.

“It was received as humiliating by the Palestinians. So we want to avoid that,” he said.

Beeckmans said: “The Palestinians indicated they prefer collateral damage than dropping at sea.”

UN officials have stressed the desperate conditions faced by people in Gaza, with dwindling food supplies pushing much of the population to the brink of starvation.

Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib, who was also at the Melsbroek air base, said a ceasefire was needed to allow more aid deliveries.

The Hamas attack on October 7 Israel resulted in about 1,160 deaths, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive in Gaza, now in its fifth month, has killed more than 30,600 people, mostly women and children, according to the latest toll from Hamas-run Gaza’s health ministry.

Read more:

US carries out first airdrop of aid into Gaza: Officials

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

Jordan King: Air force air-dropped urgent medical aid on Gaza

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