Biden announced US airdrops of humanitarian aid to Gaza.


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Palestinians gather to collect food aid in Beit Lahia, northern Gaza Strip, on February 26.



CNN

The United States will begin airdropping food aid to the people of Gaza, President Joe Biden announced Friday, as the humanitarian crisis deepens and Israel to allow more aid into the war-torn strip. Resistance to opening additional land routes will continue.

Speaking in the Oval Office, Biden said the U.S. would pull “every stop” to get additional aid to Gaza, which has been under intense Israeli bombardment since the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attacks. .

The US president said that “the aid coming to Gaza is nowhere near enough,” noting that “hundreds of trucks” must enter the enclave.

Biden said the U.S. is “going to insist that Israel provide more trucks and more routes to help more people, no excuses.”

He also noted efforts to free hostages and an agreement to secure an “immediate ceasefire” that would allow additional aid.

A U.S. official told CNN that the U.S. military is working to deploy the planes in the coming days.

The announcement of the US airstrikes is an acknowledgment of the dire situation in Gaza, where more than 100 people were killed on Thursday when Israeli soldiers opened fire as people waited for a food convoy in the north.

Witnesses further told CNN that aid trucks tried to flee the area, accidentally hitting others and causing more deaths and injuries.

The air drops will provide some relief to those living on the ground. However, their use is unlikely to lead to a lasting solution to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, as each drop can only carry a fraction of the amount of aid that can be trucked into the enclave.

Instead, their use underscores the devastating effects of the Israeli government's ongoing refusal to open more land crossings for much-needed aid. US calls for the Netanyahu government to open more crossings in the north have so far failed. In the south, the number of trucks entering the war-torn belt reached just 85 a day last week.

Biden made the announcement as his administration faces intense domestic criticism for its handling of the controversy — criticism that has had political consequences for the president during an election year.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby called the airdrops “a supplement, not a substitute for moving things from the ground.”

State Department spokesman Matt Miller said Thursday that the airdrops “will help immediately.”

“But the real solution here is to try to get – or to get, I should say – an agreement that will dramatically increase the flow of aid and solve the distribution problems. will help and help solve the problem that ordinary citizens face,” Miller said at a departmental briefing on how to proceed safely when seeking help.

Earlier this week, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and France airlifted aid to various areas of the Gaza Strip in a sign of how desperate the situation has become.

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Palestinians run on the street during a humanitarian aid broadcast by Jordan in Gaza City on March 1, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Hamas militant group.

Kirby confirmed on Friday that talks are underway with Israel and other stakeholders about a possible maritime corridor for humanitarian aid to Gaza. However, a US official told CNN that a number of logistical challenges would need to be overcome to make the corridor a reality.

Senior US officials have repeatedly pressed Israeli officials in face-to-face meetings on the urgent need to open additional crossings.

“This is a matter of life and death,” said USAID Administrator Samantha Power, who met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yves Gallant on Wednesday. Power announced an additional $53 million in humanitarian aid during his trip to the region this week.

US officials have had ongoing discussions with Israeli officials about the need to ensure the safety of humanitarian aid workers once they enter Gaza.

“The aid workers who are risking their lives on the ground in Gaza delivering food to people in desperate need must be protected. They must know that they can do their work without being shot and killed.” are,” Power said Tuesday.

David Satterfield, the US envoy for Middle East humanitarian affairs, said last month that the convoys had come under attack by both “desperate mobs” and “criminal elements” inside the enclave.

Satterfield said Israeli forces targeted members of the Hamas-run police force traveling with UN aid convoys trying to protect them from looting, prompting police to stop guarding the convoys. has done

“With the departure of the police escorts, it is impractical for the UN or anyone else – Jordan, the UAE, any other enforcer – to safely move aid into Gaza because of the criminal gangs,” he said. It has become impossible.”

CNN's Oren Lieberman and Samantha Waldenberg contributed reporting.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

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