US begins airdrops of aid to Gaza

US begins airdrops of aid to Gaza

11 Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli airstrike while sheltering in tent

Food and other supplies are dropped from a plane over Gaza City on Friday. (Photo: Reuters)
Food and other supplies are dropped from a plane over Gaza City on Friday. (Photo: Reuters)

WASHINGTON - The US military on Saturday carried out its first airdrop of humanitarian aid into Gaza, two US officials said.

The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the airdrop was carried out using three C-130 planes.

One of the officials said more than 35,000 meals were airdropped.

The White House has said the airdrops would be a sustained effort, and that Israel was supportive of the plan.

Other countries including France, Egypt and Jordan have carried out airdrops of aid into Gaza.

At least 576,000 people in the Gaza Strip — one quarter of the enclave’s population — are one step from famine, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

With people eating animal feed to survive and medics saying children are dying from malnutrition and dehydration, the UN has said it faces “overwhelming obstacles” getting in aid.

Meanwhile, the relentless Israeli offensive continues to exact a grim toll, with least 11 Palestinians killed when an Israeli airstrike hit a tent in Rafah in the Gaza Strip on Saturday.

The Gaza health ministry said another 50 people were wounded in the strike next to a hospital in the Tel Al-Sultan area of Rafah. One of the dead was a medic at the hospital. The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“The strike hit one tent, where people took shelter, directly, shrapnel came inside the hospital where me and friends were sitting, we survived by a miracle,” a witness told Reuters by phone from the area, declining to be identified.

The Israeli military said its forces killed eight militants in Khan Younis, around 20 militants in the central Gaza Strip and three more in Rimal, near Gaza City.

The hostilities came amid uncertainty over whether negotiations on a Gaza ceasefire would resume on Sunday.

Well over a million Palestinians have been seeking refuge in the Rafah area, fleeing the Israeli offensive which has laid waste to much of the Gaza Strip, killing more than 30,000 people, according to health authorities in Hamas-run Gaza.

Israel launched the offensive in response to the Oct 7 attack by the Palestinian militant group, in which 1,200 people were killed in Israel and another 253 abducted, according to Israeli tallies.

US President Joe Biden has said he hopes a ceasefire will be in place by the time of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which starts on March 10. Speaking to reporters on Friday, he said: “We’re not there yet.”

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