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American cargo planes airdropped more than 36,000 meals to Gaza Tuesday in a joint operation with Jordan, the US military said, as the international community scrambles to curb a growing humanitarian crisis there.

The United Nations has warned of famine in Gaza, while the World Health Organization said a recent aid mission to two hospitals found horrifying scenes of children dying of starvation in the territory’s north.

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“US Central Command and the Royal Jordanian Air Force conducted a combined humanitarian assistance airdrop into Northern Gaza on March 5, 2024, at 2:30 p.m. (Gaza time) to provide essential relief to civilians affected by the ongoing conflict,” the military command said in a statement.

“US C-130s dropped over 36,800 US and Jordanian meal equivalents in Northern Gaza, an area of great need, allowing for civilian access to the critical aid,” CENTCOM said, adding that “we continue planning for follow-on aid delivery missions.”

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

The Hamas attack 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 the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.

The amount of aid brought into Gaza by truck has plummeted during nearly five months of war, and Gazans are facing dire shortages of food, water and medicines.

Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said Monday that between 30 to 120 trucks per day had delivered aid to Gaza in the past week.

“That’s clearly not enough... to feed the population there,” Singh said, while noting that airdrops are intended to supplement rather than replace aid brought in by ground.

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