US military aircraft airdrop food into Gaza, officials say

Washington: US military C-130 cargo planes on Saturday dropped food in pallets over Gaza, three US officials said, two days after more than 100 Palestinians who had surged to pull goods off an aid convoy were killed during a chaotic encounter with Israeli troops.

Three planes from Air Forces Central dropped 66 bundles containing about 38,000 meals into Gaza at 8:30am, according to two of the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity before a public announcement.

The airdrop is expected to be the first of many announced by President Joe Biden on Friday. The aid will be coordinated with Jordan, which has also conducted airdrops to deliver food to Gaza.

At least 115 Palestinians were killed and hundreds more wounded in the Thursday attack as they scrambled for aid, the Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza said. Israel says many of the dead were trampled in a chaotic crush for the food aid, and its troops fired warning shots after the crowd moved toward them in a threatening way.

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said Friday that the airdrops were being planned to deliver emergency humanitarian assistance in a safe way to people on the ground.

The C-130 cargo plane is a widely used military jet to deliver aid to remote places due to its ability to land in austere environments and cargo capacity.

Displaced Palestinians cook food in a temporary shelter at a camp in Gaza.

Displaced Palestinians cook food in a temporary shelter at a camp in Gaza.Credit:

A C-130 can airlift as much as 42,000 pounds of cargo and its crews know how to rig the cargo, which sometimes can include even vehicles, onto massive pallets can be safely dropped out of the back of the aircraft.

Air Force loadmasters secure the bundles onto pallets with netting that is rigged for release in the back of a C-130, and then crews release it with a parachute when the aircraft reaches the intended delivery zone.

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