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US, Jordan airdrop more aid to Gaza, says US military

Packages fall towards northern Gaza, after being dropped from a military aircraft, as seen from Israel's border. — Reuters
Packages fall towards northern Gaza, after being dropped from a military aircraft, as seen from Israel's border. — Reuters

WASHINGTON: The United States and Jordan carried out a new airdrop of humanitarian aid to Gaza's Palestinians on Sunday, parachuting in more than 11,500 meals, the U.S. military said.

The Israeli offensive in Gaza, which is supported by the United States, has displaced most of the enclave's 2.3 million people and led to critical shortages of food, water and medicine.

The U.S. military's Central Command said that the latest airdrop took place over northern Gaza and included rice, flour, pasta, and canned food. The United States has dropped about 135,000 meals in airdrops this month, according to Pentagon data.

U.S. President Joe Biden has also ordered the U.S. military to build a temporary port system to bring aid into Gaza by sea. The Pentagon said on Friday it could take up to 60 days to be up and running, a timeline that aid groups say is too long given the imminent risk of famine.

The U.S. Army has dispatched a ship to send humanitarian aid to Gaza, Central Command (CENTCOM) said on Sunday

The General Frank S. Besson left Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia "less than 36 hours after President Biden announced the U.S. would provide humanitarian assistance to Gaza by sea," CENTCOM said in a statement.

The logistics support vessel is "carrying the first equipment to establish a temporary pier to deliver vital humanitarian supplies," it said.

Biden's announcement in his State of the Union address on Thursday followed U.N. warnings of widespread famine among Gaza's Palestinians five months after Israel launched its offensive in the narrow strip in response to an attack by Hamas militants.

Gaza has no port infrastructure. The U.S. initially plans to use Cyprus, which is offering a process for screening cargoes that will include Israel officials, removing the need for security checks in Gaza.

Most of Gaza's people are now internally displaced, with severe bottlenecks in aid deliveries at land border checkpoints.

Gaza has been under an Israeli navy blockade since 2007, when Palestinian groups took control of the enclave. There have been few direct sea arrivals since then.

Efforts to secure a deal on a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza are ongoing, despite dimming hopes for a truce during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Hamas blames Israel for the impasse in negotiations for a longer ceasefire and the release of 134 captives believed still held in Gaza - saying it refuses to give guarantees to end the war or pull its forces from the enclave. — Reuters

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