Biden says US to carry out airdrops of aid into Gaza in coming days

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(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden on Friday said the U.S. would carry out airdrops of humanitarian aid into Gaza in the coming days.

Speaking in an Oval Office meeting with Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, he referred to what he called the “tragic and alarming event” in North Gaza on Thursday in which more than 100 people died as they rushed food aid trucks and Israeli forces guarding the trucks opened fire.

“The loss of life is heartbreaking. People are so desperate that innocent people got caught in a terrible war unable to feed their families, and you saw the response when they tried to get aid in,” he said. “And we need to do more in the United States, will do more. In the coming days, we’re going to join with our friends in Jordan and others in providing airdrops …” but he mentioned Ukraine when he meant Gaza.

“In addition to expanding deliveries by land, as I said, we’re gonna — we’re gonna insist that Israel facilitate more trucks and more routes to get more and more people the help they need. No excuses because the truth is, aid flowing to Gaza is nowhere nearly enough,” he said. “Now, it’s nowhere nearly enough. Innocent lives are on the line, and children’s lives on the line and we won’t stand by and let — until they — until we get more aid in there. We should be getting hundreds of trucks in, not just several.

“I won’t stand by and we won’t let up,” he said.

“There’s few military operations that are more complicated than humanitarian assistance air drops. This is—-this is a tough military mission to do because so many parameters have to be exactly right. We’re going to pursue this the way we would pursue any such operation — carefully,” White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby said at a briefing afterward.

He said the planning would be robust. “I know that we will learn from the first airdrops, and this will be a part of a sustained effort. This isn’t going to be one and done,” he said.

“There will be additional airdrops planned and executed. And with each one, I think we’ll learn more and we’ll get — we’ll get better at them. It’s very difficult. It is extremely difficult to do an airdrop in such a crowded environment as is Gaza. Very, very densely populated. A lot of people confined to small spaces. So, you want to do it in a way that you can get it to close — as close as you can to the people in need, but not in a way that puts them in any danger. And so, the Pentagon will be doing a raft of planning on this.”

He said the first airdrops would likely involve pallets of MREs — Meals Ready to Eat — and that the U.S. would work with international aid organizations on distribution.

“I can tell you that this first one coming in — in a few days, will not be the last one. It will be part of a larger, longer, sustained effort to increase the flow of humanitarian assistance,” he said.

He also said the administration also is in the “early stages” of exploring options for a maritime aid delivery corridor.

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