Mar 1, 2024 - World

Biden says U.S. will begin airdropping aid into Gaza in the coming days

President Biden. Photo: Raquel Natalicchio/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images

President Biden. Photo: Raquel Natalicchio/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday that the U.S. will begin airdropping humanitarian aid into Gaza in the coming days and "insist" Israel allow more trucks and create more routes to get supplies into the enclave by land. "No excuses," he said.

Why it matters: The announcement underscores the growing concerns within the Biden administration about the worsening humanitarian conditions in Gaza and the difficulties of getting aid into the enclave, where the UN has warned "famine is almost inevitable" if nothing changes.

  • It also comes as Biden faces growing pressure abroad and at home to do more to restrain Israel, including by calling for a ceasefire, and to get more aid in Gaza.
  • The White House only recently started discussing the option of U.S. airdrops, as Axios first reported last week.

The big picture: Biden's announcement comes a day after more than 100 Palestinians were killed in an incident around an aid convoy in northern Gaza.

  • Palestinians blamed Israeli forces, who fired on a crowd of civilians, while Israel said most died by being trampled on or driven over as crowds stormed the convoy.

What he's saying: "People are so desperate that innocent people got caught in a terrible war unable to feed their families and you saw the response when they tried to get aid in," Biden said on Friday.

  • "And we need to do more and the United States will do more," he added.

"We're going to insist that Israel facilitate more trucks and more routes to get more and more people the help they need. No excuses, because the truth is aid flowing to Gaza is nowhere nearly enough now — it's nowhere nearly enough," he said, adding that "innocent lives are on the line and children's lives are on the line."

  • "We should be getting hundreds of trucks in, not just several. And I won't stand by, we won't let up and we're... trying to pull out every stop we can to get more assistance in," he said.
  • He also reiterated his administration's priority to get a hostage deal that would include at least six-week ceasefire "to allow the surge of aid to the entire Gaza Strip, not just the south."

Driving the news: Due to Israeli restrictions, the security situation in the enclave and the fighting, the amount of aid entering Gaza has significantly decreased, according to UN data.

  • Hamas' civilian police who were escorting aid trucks walked off the job earlier this month after being targeted by Israel, creating a security vacuum that opened the door for armed gangs and Palestinians desperate for supplies to attack and loot aid trucks.
  • At the same time, Israeli airstrikes and the fighting in some areas have hit aid workers, making it increasingly difficult for humanitarian groups to continue their operations.

Those realities, along with restrictions put in place by Israel, have led to the bottlenecks of aid trucks at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza and the crossing between Israel and the Strip.

  • The lack of aid is having devastating consequences for Palestinian civilians. A UN official said on Friday that at least 10 children have died of starvation.

Between the lines: U.S. officials have acknowledged that aid airdrops have a limited impact since a U.S. military plane could only drop the equivalent of the amount of aid one or two aid trucks can carry.

  • Jordan has conducted several rounds of aid airdrops in Gaza. Its most recent drops were done with the cooperation of Egypt and France.
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