March 8, 2024 | Flash Brief

Gaza Airdrop Kills Five, Highlighting Distribution Challenges

March 8, 2024 | Flash Brief

Gaza Airdrop Kills Five, Highlighting Distribution Challenges

Latest Developments

Humanitarian aid dropped from military planes into Gaza reportedly killed five Gazans and injured 10 others on March 8, apparently the result of one or more malfunctioning parachutes. Video footage from Gaza showed Gazans waiting on the ground as a cargo plane dropped numerous pallets of aid. While some of the pallets floated down via a parachute, the video shows one or more of the pallets falling at high speeds. According to CBS News, the incident happened at the al-Shati camp west of Gaza City, although it is unknown which nation dropped the aid.

The United States began airdropping aid into Gaza on March 2 to complement aid entering the enclave using convoys on the ground. The Israel Defense Forces has previously said it coordinated airdrops of humanitarian aid by Jordanian, Egyptian, French, and American militaries.

Expert Analysis

“Like Israel, the United States would never intentionally target civilians and, indeed, both countries take extraordinary measures in wartime to protect civilians as much as possible. The tragedy of this incident is compounded by its context: Unnecessary acts of political theatre aimed at undermining Israel’s credibility as a moral and responsible democracy — which, like the United States, it is.” Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

“Airdrops continue to be an important way to deliver aid to Gazans. A malfunction in one airdrop should not deter further use of airdrops. The coordination between Israel, the United States, and other partners is essential to enabling aid that helps civilians. And by helping civilians, Israel can continue to focus on defeating Hamas.” Seth F. Frantzman, FDD Adjunct Fellow

Israel Coordinates Airdrops

The Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) — the Israeli government agency overseeing aid distribution — reported in a newsletter on March 7 that Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) dropped 24 aid packages on March 6. The agency noted that the United States, UAE, Egypt, Jordan, and France have dropped 750 packages in 25 airdrops since the war against Hamas began in October, with most of the aid going to northern Gaza. U.S. officials have pointed to limitations in airdropping aid, saying that airdrops cannot move supplies at the same scale as truck convoys and that it is difficult to ensure the aid is disseminated in an orderly way.

Aid has proven challenging to distribute in Gaza, often being stolen from civilians by Hamas or falling prey to civilians mobbing the convoy. International aid agencies have warned that Gaza is at risk of famine, especially in northern Gaza. On March 7, President Joe Biden announced in his State of the Union address that U.S. troops would build a temporary pier on the enclave’s coast to allow for aid deliveries by ship.

Israel Not Blocking Aid

Israel has repeatedly emphasized that it is fighting against Hamas, not Palestinian civilians. Rejecting complaints from international agencies about the allegedly low volume of aid reaching Gaza, Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy said on March 7 that “Israel is letting adequate aid in, but the aid distribution mechanisms in Gaza are plainly inadequate. Because the UN [United Nations] relies on Hamas front UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency] and Hamas protection. So we’re working on new ways with private sector, to compensate for that systemic failure.”

Biden to Announce U.S.-Built Gaza Aid Pier at State of the Union,” FDD Flash Brief

Stampede, Gunfire Near Gaza Aid Trucks,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Facilitates Record Aid to Gaza,” FDD Flash Brief

Israel Expands Aid Access to Gaza,” FDD Flash Brief


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