Updated Mar 2, 2024 - World

U.S. makes first airdrop in Gaza

Boy stands in Gaza refugee camp

A Palestinian youth stands next to a Mosque that was destroyed in Israeli strikes in Deir El-Balah in central Gaza on March 2. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

U.S. military planes conducted their first airdrop of humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza on Saturday afternoon local time, U.S. and Israeli officials say.

Why it matters: A U.S. official told Axios he expect more airdrops to take place in the coming days.

The latest: A senior U.S. official said in a briefing with reporters that to give a wide-scale delivery of aid to Gaza there needs to be a ceasefire, which could be accomplished with a deal to release hostages.

  • "The Israelis accepted the terms of the deal and if Hamas agrees, a six-week ceasefire can start immediately," the official said.
  • "The deal is on the table. The talks continue in Doha and we hope we can get a deal by Ramadan. The ball is in Hamas' court. We continue to push a hard as we can."

Driving the news: The first airdrop, which took place in the Rafah area near the Gaza border with Egypt, is where more than one million Palestinian civilians are concentrated.

  • The airdrop was conducted by U.S. Central Command and the Royal Jordanian Air Force and included U.S. Air Force and RJAF C-130 aircraft.
  • "U.S. C-130s dropped over 38,000 meals along the coastline of Gaza allowing for civilian access to the critical aid," Central Command said in a statement.
  • "These 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," Central Command added.

The big picture: Biden's announcement on Friday that the U.S. will conduct air drops of aid in Gaza underscores the growing concerns within the Biden administration about the worsening humanitarian conditions in Gaza and the difficulties of getting aid into the enclave.

  • The UN has warned "famine is almost inevitable" if nothing changes.
  • The airdrop also comes as Biden faces growing pressure abroad and at home to do more to restrain Israel, including calling for a ceasefire and getting more aid in Gaza.
  • The White House only recently started discussing the option of U.S. airdrops, as Axios first reported last week.

Go deeper: Scoop: U.S. weighs airdropping aid into Gaza as land deliveries slow

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the latest developments.

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