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US resumes critical humanitarian air drops into northern Gaza

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  • The US has resumed air drops of over 10 metric tons of essential supplies into northern Gaza, addressing the severe humanitarian crisis.
  • The conflict between Israel and Hamas has resulted in over 37,000 individuals either dead or unaccounted for, with significant challenges in aid delivery due to military operations and adverse weather.
  • The reinstallation of a temporary pier on the Gaza coast is expected to facilitate the delivery of about 500 tons of aid per day, highlighting the importance of continued international support for humanitarian efforts in the region.

The United States has taken a significant step in alleviating the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip by resuming air drops of essential supplies into northern Gaza. On Sunday, an American cargo plane delivered more than 10 metric tons of rations, marking the first such delivery after a temporary suspension caused by Israeli military operations and inclement weather conditions.

The Gaza Strip has been embroiled in its deadliest conflict to date, following a devastating attack by Hamas on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and the taking of 251 hostages. The ensuing conflict has led to a severe humanitarian crisis, with the Gaza health ministry reporting over 37,000 individuals either dead or unaccounted for. Of these, around 24,000 fatalities have been confirmed, while the remaining figures are based on unverified reports from Hamas media sources.

In response to the escalating crisis, the United States has been delivering aid via air and sea, urging Israel to increase the amount of assistance entering the enclave through land routes. The US Central Command (CENTCOM) described the recent air drop as a "vital humanitarian intervention in northern Gaza." To date, the US has airdropped over 1,050 metric tons of aid, supplementing the assistance delivered through a temporary pier attached to the Gaza coast.

Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, deputy CENTCOM commander, highlighted the challenges faced in delivering aid, stating that the air drops had been "temporarily halted due to the kinetic operations taking place in the north" but were expected to resume shortly. The most recent air drop occurred a day after aid deliveries were reinstated via the pier, which had been damaged by adverse weather conditions and required repairs at a nearby port before being reconnected to the coast.

The temporary pier, initially operational for only a week before being damaged by a storm, has been reinstalled and is expected to facilitate the delivery of about 500 tons of aid per day. This maritime route is considered crucial for food delivery, especially as land crossings remain closed due to the conflict. However, early efforts to distribute aid from the pier faced challenges, with people attempting to take food off the lorries before reaching distribution warehouses.

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has drawn international attention, with President Joe Biden announcing plans for the US military to build the pier during his State of the Union address in early March. The initial cost of the project was estimated at $320 million, but contributions from Britain and lower-than-expected costs for contracting lorries and other equipment have reduced the price to $230 million.

The resumption of air drops and the reinstallation of the pier underscore the urgent need for continued humanitarian assistance in Gaza. As the conflict between Israel and Hamas shows no signs of abating, the international community must remain vigilant and proactive in providing aid to those affected by the ongoing violence.

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