Biden approves military air drops of aid into Gaza after dozens killed

1 March 2024, 20:44

Biden
Biden. Picture: PA

More than 115 Palestinians were killed as they tried to reach goods on an aid convoy.

President Joe Biden said on Friday that the US will begin air-dropping humanitarian assistance into Gaza, a day after dozens of Palestinians were killed during a chaotic encounter with Israeli troops.

The president announced the move after at least 115 Palestinians were killed and more than 750 others were injured, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry, on Thursday when witnesses said nearby Israeli troops opened fire as huge crowds raced to pull goods off an aid convoy.

Biden
President Joe Biden announced the drops would begin ‘in the coming days’ (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Mr Biden said the air drops will begin soon and that the United States was looking into additional ways to facilitate getting badly needed aid into the war-battered territory to ease the suffering of Palestinians.

“In the coming days, we’re going to join with our friends in Jordan and others who are providing airdrops of additional food and supplies” and will “seek to open up other avenues in, including possibly a marine corridor,” Mr Biden said.

The president twice referred to airdrops to help Ukraine, but White House officials clarified that he was referring to Gaza.

Israel said many of the dead were trampled in a stampede linked to the chaos and that its troops fired at some in the crowd who they believed moved toward them in a threatening way.

Biden
President Joe Biden meets Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Mr Biden made the announcement while hosting Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at the White House.

“Aid flowing to Gaza is nowhere nearly enough,” Mr Biden said.

“Now, it’s nowhere nearly enough. Innocent lives are on the line and children’s lives are on the line.

“We won’t stand by until we get more aid in there. We should be getting hundreds of trucks in, not just several.”

Biden
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said that her country supports the US’ mediation efforts (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Mr Biden said earlier this week that he was optimistic that a ceasefire deal could be reached by early next week.

However, the president acknowledged that a prospective deal may have been set back after Israeli troops fired on a large crowd of Palestinians racing to pull food off the aid convoy on Thursday.

With Ms Meloni by his side, Mr Biden expressed cautious optimism on Friday that a deal can still be struck.

“We’ve been working and hopefully we’ll know shortly,” he said.

Ms Meloni said solving the humanitarian crisis in Gaza was Italy’s top priority.

“We need to co-ordinate our actions to avoid an escalation, and this regard we fully support the US mediation efforts,” she said.

By Press Association

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