Gaza humanitarian aid airdrops continue amid efforts to secure maritime, ground routes


In a third joint operation, US and Jordanian forces airdropped meals into Gaza as part of a sustained effort to deliver humanitarian aid. So far, about 112,000 meals have been delivered.

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CENTCOM and the Royal Jordanian Air Force carried out a third humanitarian airdrop into northern Gaza on March 7, delivering over 38,000 meals. [CENTCOM]
CENTCOM and the Royal Jordanian Air Force carried out a third humanitarian airdrop into northern Gaza on March 7, delivering over 38,000 meals. [CENTCOM]

US and Jordanian forces conducted a third combined humanitarian assistance airdrop into northern Gaza on March 7 to provide essential relief to civilians in Gaza affected by the ongoing conflict, the US military said.

The joint operation comes amid increased international efforts to secure ground and maritime aid corridors into the war-torn Palestinian territory.

The March 7 airdrop included US Air Force and Jordanian C-130 aircraft and US Army personnel who specialize in the aerial delivery of humanitarian assistance, US Central Command (CENTCOM) said on X (formerly Twitter).

The US planes dropped more than 38,000 meals, it said, noting that the airdrops, which have so far delivered a total of about 112,000 meals to Gaza, "are part of a sustained effort and we continue to plan follow on aerial deliveries."

Military personnel load humanitarian aid into a plane ahead of a joint US-Jordanian airdrop into Gaza. [CENTCOM]
Military personnel load humanitarian aid into a plane ahead of a joint US-Jordanian airdrop into Gaza. [CENTCOM]

The latest delivery follows two previous US and Jordanian airdrops of humanitarian aid to Gaza, on March 5 and March 2.

Belgium on March 5 sent a military transport plane to join an international operation to drop aid in Gaza also involving the United States, France and Jordan, AFP reported.

The aid was taken to Jordan, where Jordanian officials were to inspect it before seeking Israeli permission for an airdrop, the Belgian defense ministry said.

The Airbus A400M transporter was to make another flight from Brussels to Jordan's Zarqa air base, to take in more aid and personnel for the drop.

Military officials have said continued civilian cooperation is key to ensure the safety not only of civilians but also of the participating military and aid workers, as well as the success of all future airdrops.

Jordan's pivotal role

Jordan has conducted at least 16 airdrops into Gaza since October 7.

The Jordanian army on February 26 said it had carried out a series of humanitarian aid drops of food and other supplies into Gaza, making "four air drops" under the directive of Jordan's King Abdullah.

Previously announced airdrops, including a joint operation with the Netherlands, sent medical and other aid to the Jordanian field hospital in northern Gaza.

The February 26 operation "aimed at delivering aid to the population directly and [dropping] it along the coast of the Gaza strip from north to south," the army said.

It comprised "relief and food supplies, including ready-made meals of high nutritional value, to alleviate the suffering of the people," it added.

"Four C-130 aircraft, one of them belonging to the French armed forces," carried out the deliveries, it said.

The cargo floated down on parachutes from the transport aircraft, including over the southern Gaza strip where about 1.4 million Gazans have converged.

In November Israel said it had coordinated an airdrop with Jordan.

The United States, which has provided $180 million in emergency assistance to the Palestinians since October 7, has previously flown aid by military plane to Egypt to cross into Gaza.

Land and maritime corridors

The humanitarian airdrops "are part of a sustained effort to get more aid into Gaza, including by expanding the flow of aid through land corridors and routes," Pentagon spokesman Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder said March 5.

"We continue planning for potential follow-on airborne aid delivery missions."

One way that Israel can assist in helping more aid to get to Gaza, Ryder said, is to ensure availability of a ground route, such as at the Kerem Shalom checkpoint in southern Gaza.

"Not enough aid is getting into Gaza," he said. "And so, the Department of Defense is supporting that broader US government effort to help contribute to that. Certainly, we want to see more aid being delivered via ground routes."

Ryder said the United States is exploring other options, including supporting delivery of assistance to Gaza by sea.

"In coordination with the US interagency and international partners, we are actively reviewing options for a maritime corridor for humanitarian assistance into Gaza," he said.

Possibilities include potential commercial and contracted options, the Pentagon said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is set to visit Cyprus on March 9 for talks on a maritime aid corridor from the island to Gaza, after signaling support for the implementation of the plan earlier in the week.

Cyprus, only 370km away from Gaza, has proposed a dedicated one-way maritime corridor as a way of providing uninterrupted aid to civilians.

"Interest from... European Union member states and institutions regarding the planning for the maritime corridor has been high," Cyprus government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said.

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