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Belgium dispatches military transport plane for Gaza aid drop

The aid is first being inspected in Jordan and will be flown to Gaza no earlier than Wednesday, pending Israeli officials’ approval, said Belgium’s Defence Ministry.

  • Belgian Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder described the effort as part of a Jordan-based “humanitarian coalition for Palestine”.

However, aid groups in Gaza have warned that the population is suffering from a devastating famine and that airdrops are an inefficient way to bring in supplies that should not be seen as a replacement for transfers via land crossings.

Source: Al Jazeera

Header: Soldiers stand by a Belgian Air Force Airbus A400M Atlas military transport aircraft loaded with humanitarian aid that will be dropped over the Gaza strip, prior to its take off at the military aerodrome in Melsbroek, northeastern of Brussels, on March 4, 2024. (Credit: John Thys/AFP)

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.
  • “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.

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.

Source: Al Arabiya

Airdropping aid is inefficient–so why is the U.S. doing it anyway?

U.S. military planes have begun airdropping food and supplies into Gaza over the weekend. According to U.S. Central Command, American and Jordanian forces dropped some 38,000 meals with parachutes along Gaza’s coastline. Compare that to the need. More than 2 million people live in the Gaza Strip. And according to the U.N., a quarter of them face imminent starvation. Jeremy Konyndyk is president of Refugees International, and he was the director of USAID’s Office of Disaster Assistance under President Obama. Welcome back to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.


SHAPIRO: You helped coordinate airdrops during previous conflicts. So tell us about when they are most effective, how they can be most useful.

KONYNDYK: Well, the first thing to understand about airdrops is they are probably the most inefficient possible way to deliver aid. So they’re used very, very sparingly and only when there is truly no other way to get aid in. So we would use them if a population was completely physically inaccessible, if they had been cut off by an earthquake or a hurricane or if there was fighting or if they were besieged. So, for example, when Iraqi Yazidis were fleeing the genocidal militia, the ISIL militia that had pushed them out of their town, they fled up Sinjar Mountain. And in 2014, when I was at AID, we organized airdrops by the U.S. military onto Sinjar Mountain to sustain them. Outside of those kind of situations, it’s very, very rare. I can’t think of one where we’ve used them in a place that was simultaneously being served by overland access.

SHAPIRO: Can you just explain why it is so inefficient, why it is such a sort of last resort?

KONYNDYK: Well, first is cost. It is about – you know, and obviously, every situation is a little different, but ballpark 8 to 10 times as expensive logistically to deliver by air as by overland transport. And the volumes are much smaller. So to put this in perspective, Samantha Power, the administrator of USAID, was in the Middle East last week. And she gave remarks in the West Bank, where she was bemoaning the fact that only about 96 trucks per day, on average, had been getting into Gaza. Well, the three planeloads that the U.S. dropped last week are equivalent to ballpark four to six truckloads. So it really is not a significant additional amount of aid relative to the already hugely inadequate amount that’s getting in.

SHAPIRO: That’s staggering, that not only is it eight to 10 times more expensive, but it’s the equivalent of four to six truckloads. And the number that President Biden himself has described as wholly insufficient is something like 96 trucks per day.

KONYNDYK: Correct.

SHAPIRO: And so what kind of deliberations had to lead up to the decision that even given the inefficiency of it, given the cost of it, given that aid could come in by land, it is still at this point a good idea and necessary to do these airdrops from the sky?

KONYNDYK: Well, I think it is reflective of just a level of frustration within the administration with the ongoing obstruction of more normal aid mechanisms by the Israeli government. So, you know, this came on the heels of the Israeli government attempting to organize their own distribution of aid into northern Gaza after having spent most of the last two months blocking the U.N. and other aid organizations from doing kind of more mainstream deliveries there. You can see in the president’s rhetoric, you can see in what the vice president said over the weekend and what Administrator Power said in recent days, you know, there’s clearly a rising level of frustration with the ongoing obstruction of aid by the Israeli government.

And I think what is quite striking about that is both under the International Court of Justice order, Israel faces a requirement to do all they can to facilitate humanitarian aid. But also under U.S. law, there are prohibitions against providing assistance, security assistance to a country that is blocking the provision of U.S. humanitarian assistance. And, you know, certainly, the plain language of what the president, vice president and administrator of USAID aid have said in recent days suggests that Israel is doing that.

SHAPIRO: Some people have criticized the U.S. as taking performative steps when the Biden administration is at the same time supporting the Israeli military’s war in Gaza. What do you make of that assessment?

KONYNDYK: I think there is a really grim irony in the fact that the U.S. is supplying both the bombs that are dropping on Gaza and now the food parcels that are dropping on Gaza. And I think it’s far past time. And most, I think, in the humanitarian community, are now saying it is time to put some real pressure and leverage on Israel over these blockages. And again, that is, you know, in our view required under U.S. law, that we should not be providing bombs to a government that is blocking aid from going into a population.

SHAPIRO: Jeremy Konyndyk is president of Refugees International. Thank you so much for talking with us.

KONYNDYK: My pleasure. Thank you.

Source: KNKX

Source: Al Jazeera

Jordan says 8 planes dropped aid into Gaza, in largest operation yet

Jordan’s official news agency says the country’s army and allies deployed eight airdrops over Gaza today, the largest such operation to date.

Three Jordanian planes, three US planes, and one each from France and Egypt took part in the operation aimed at delivering aid to various locations around the crisis-wracked Strip, a statement carried by the Petra news agency says.

The planes dropped unspecified relief supplies, including food provided by the World Food Program.

  • “These airdrops are a continuation of Jordan’s commitment to providing medical, relief, and food aid to the people of Gaza, aimed at alleviating the humanitarian crisis exacerbated by the ongoing Israeli war on the Gaza Strip,” the statement says.

According to Jordan, there have been 43 airdrops over Gaza since war broke out on October 7, the majority of them carried out by Amman.

Source: TOI