US carries out second airdrop of aid into Gaza
U.S. Central Command and the Royal Jordanian Air Force conducted a combined humanitarian assistance airdrop into Northern Gaza on March 5, 2024, at 2:30 p.m. (Israel time) to provide essential relief to civilians affected by the ongoing conflict.
(Photo: United States Army Central)

The Pentagon believes that its first aid drop reached Gazan civilians without being seized by Hamas.

By Andrew Bernard
March 5, 2024

(JNS) — U.S. Central Command announced on Tuesday that it carried out a second airdrop of emergency food supplies into the Gaza Strip.

“The combined, joint operation included U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft and U.S. Army soldiers specialized in aerial delivery of U.S and Jordanian humanitarian assistance supplies,” CENTCOM wrote.

“U.S. C-130s dropped over 36,800 U.S. and Jordanian meal equivalents in Northern Gaza, an area of great need, allowing for civilian access to the critical aid,” it added.

A Pentagon spokeswoman on Monday also clarified that the United States was dropping “culturally sensitive” Meals Ready-to-Eat (MREs) from regular U.S. military stocks and not the humanitarian daily rations that the United States has specially designed for conflict zones.

“This was something that we were able to pull from our stocks at the time. We needed to get meals there as quickly as we can,” said Sabrina Singh, deputy Pentagon press secretary.

“We’re doing everything possible that we can get food into the region by all means necessary, and so this was just one opportunity where we were able to drop these MREs in,” she added.

A U.S. Army soldier pushes a pallet of humanitarian aid onto a cargo aircraft at an undisclosed location within the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility on March 1, 2024. (Photo: Courtesy of U.S. Air Force)

Despite video from Sunday’s drop showing many of the pallets falling offshore, Singh said that the Pentagon believed that the 38,000 MREs had been recovered by Gaza’s civilian population and had not fallen into the hands of Hamas.

“We believe that our airdrop, the pallets that we were able to drop were all able to successfully be obtained by the Palestinians,” Singh said. 

“We can’t guarantee that there wasn’t someone from Hamas that was there, that was able to get some of the aid, but from what we were able to see, it looked like citizens, civilians being able to get aid and distribute it amongst themselves,” she added.

Although photo captions on the Defense Department website initially referred to water being airdropped in addition to food, a senior U.S. official said during a background press call on March 2 that “There was not water included. It was food items—Meals Ready to Eat.”

CENTCOM’s March 5 announcement referred to the delivery of “36,800 U.S. and Jordanian meal equivalents.” On March 2, it said more than “38,000 meals” were delivered.

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