Portada » The United States drops humanitarian aid into Gaza from the sky for the first time | International

The United States drops humanitarian aid into Gaza from the sky for the first time | International

by Isabella Walker
0 comment

“We don’t yet know the details of what happened, but what we know at the moment is that civilians appear to have been injured and killed while trying to get food for their severely malnourished children. “This can’t happen.” Samantha Power, head of the United States Department of Humanitarian Aid (USAID), was on Thursday in the West Bank city of Ramallah to analyze the humanitarian crisis in the Strip, when images and contradictory versions of the deaths of more than 100 began. people. people around a humanitarian convoy. In the press conference, he refused to go into what remains unclear – how many unarmed civilians were shot by Israeli soldiers (who felt threatened when they approached the tanks, according to the Israeli army’s version) and how many were crushed from the trucks – but rather it was the context: everyone was chasing the convoy because they were hungry, and this is not the result of a natural catastrophe.

Two days later, this Saturday, the United States launched humanitarian aid into Gaza for the first time. There were more than 38,000 food rations along the Mediterranean coast, which were transported by C-130 military aircraft, US Central Command (Centcom) said. “They are part of an ongoing effort to introduce more aid to Gaza, including increasing the flow of aid through corridors and land roads,” he said.

This collaborated with the Jordanian Armed Forces, another of the countries that has resorted to air travel in recent weeks, such as Egypt, the United Arab Emirates or France. Israel controls Gaza’s airspace (it did so before the war), so any delivery of humanitarian aid requires its green light, just as it does with anything coming in overland from Egypt.

The United States’ decision does not just represent recognition of the gravity of the situation. Also a failure. From the need for an emergency shortcut in the face of Israeli restrictions and the bottleneck in the entry and distribution of aid by land, which has developed for several reasons, until last week the average number of trucks per day was reduced to 97, half compared to January and 400 less than what humanitarian organizations consider essential to address the humanitarian crisis. Power herself admitted it in Ramallah: “I want to be clear. “It is not about increasing the daily number of trucks by five or ten, but rather about flooding the humanitarian area with huge quantities of food, medicine and shelter for people who need it.”

American soldiers prepare humanitarian aid at an undisclosed location at Central Command this Friday.Technical Sergeant Christopher Hubenthal (via REUTERS)

Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.


Jeremy Konyndyk, president of Refugees International, an American NGO involved in supporting displaced people, refugees and stateless people, does not criticize the use of air transport, but rather “the reason why it is done”. “It’s a reflection of the number of obstacles the Israeli government places on aid,” he says by phone. Konyndyk, who headed USAID’s humanitarian division under Barack Obama, recalls having approved such resignations himself in other crises, when it was impossible or very expensive to distribute aid by land. But he insists that it must be “a last resort” and, for technical reasons, not because Israel has made it “almost impossible” to introduce it by other means. This Saturday’s shipment, he adds, represents only “a portion of the daily caloric intake of a portion of the population.”

The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, expressed a similar opinion. “Airdrops should be the solution of last resort, because their impact is minimal and not without risk to civilians,” he said in a statement. Borrell condemned “the restrictions imposed by Israel on the entry of humanitarian aid and the opening of border crossings” and urged “the immediate removal of obstacles at the Kerem Shalom crossing.” [donde se inspecciona], open access in the north to the Karni and Erez crossings, open the port of Ashdod to humanitarian aid and allow a direct humanitarian corridor from Jordan. Israel blames the bottleneck on the United Nations’ inefficiency in bringing in and distributing aid.

Row of trucks

In Egypt, an endless queue of trucks has been waiting for days for the green light to cross. It is the only country from which aid comes. For political reasons, Israel keeps closed the natural point where it did before the war: the port of Ashdod, 40 kilometers from the Strip.

Several factors come together in the bottleneck. On the one hand, only two crossings open and at a certain time. In another, Israel conducts a thorough inspection of shipments, fearing that the aid will benefit Hamas. In fact, it refuses the entry of material (medical, for example) that it deems potentially suitable for the use of weapons. Once inside, the United Nations and NGOs have difficulty escorting trucks or storing aid (some warehouses have been bombed; others are housing displaced people). Both starving citizens and mafias trying to resell them on the market are raiding convoys. And moving forward is painful, due to the immense destruction of the roads caused by the advancing army.

The truck tragedy, one of the most shocking episodes in the nearly five months of war in Gaza, “underlines the urgency of concluding negotiations as soon as possible and increasing the flow of humanitarian assistance to Gaza,” according to the President of the United States United. ., Joe Biden and Arab leaders in a meeting that same day, the White House said.

The negotiations he mentions are those that Israel and Hamas are carrying out to agree on a second exchange of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners and an increase in humanitarian aid during a six-week truce. This Sunday there will be a meeting in Egypt, one of the mediating countries. Its foreign minister, Sameh Shukry, said on Saturday he was “hopeful” of concluding a deal next week, before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. “Everyone is aware that we have a limited time to succeed before the start of Ramadan,” Shukry said at a forum in Turkey.

It is the consensus that has formed in recent days: the agreement must be concluded before Ramadan, which this year will begin on March 10 or 11. They are dates characterized by joy, in which the streets are filled at night – after the breaking of the fast – with people, food and sweets. This would be the perfect time to give Gaza a break in the bombing and forced displacement, and a little more humanitarian aid; and in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, images of released prisoners once again embracing their families.

There is also another look at Ramadan. This is what worries Israel and pushes it to accelerate negotiations. This is also when tensions tend to emerge in the Middle East. And this year there are many accumulated ones. Already last year there had been the (then) largest rocket attack against Israel from Lebanon since the 2006 war with Hezbollah, after the police had twice violently entered an important place for Muslims such as the Al Mosque. Aqsa, in Jerusalem.

Follow all international information on Facebook AND Xor inside our weekly newsletter.

Sign up to continue reading

Read without limits


You may also like