A U.S. official refuted claims that an American aid drop of humanitarian aid and food into Gaza had killed people on the ground.

The Jerusalem Post reported that at least five people in Gaza were killed Friday afternoon after being hit by aid packages dropped via parachute by U.S. planes. The Post’s report cited “Israeli media citing Gaza reports” that parachutes on the humanitarian aid packages did not open.

A U.S. official told Task & Purpose that U.S. forces did complete an aid drop Friday morning, but denied that the drop had led to deaths. The U.S. made at least two large drops of parachute-equipped aid packages in Gaza earlier this week.

The U.S. official said that they are looking into the matter but based on facts and timelines, “we do not believe these deaths to be a result from U.S. air drops,” the official said.

The reports come a day after President Joe Biden announced during his State of the Union that the U.S. military would establish a sea port to more efficiently deliver aid to Palestinians in Gaza without putting boots on the ground.

Other nations have also dropped aid into Gaza where the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that over half a million people — one quarter of the Gaza’s population – are in danger of living in famine conditions. 

The U.S. official did not indicate which other country’s aid may be at fault. Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and France have all conducted air drops in Gaza, according to media reports.

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The U.S. began dropping aid into the Gaza strip in March after at least 100 Palestinians were killed when IDF soldiers opened fire around a convoy of trucks carrying aid. Israel and Hamas have each blamed the other for inciting the disaster, while the IDF has maintained that many of the Palestinian deaths were caused by trampling as a large crowd scattered. 

In the wake of those deaths, State Department spokesman Matt Miller said in a press briefing, “People need more food; they need more water; they need medicine and other humanitarian goods, and they need it now.”

On March 2, U.S. Air Force C-130s dropped 66 aid bundles just off a beach on the Gaza coastline. That drop included more than 38,000 ready-to-eat meals and water for Palestinians in need of supplies. The operations were carried out by personnel from the Royal Jordanian Air Force personnel and U.S. Air Force and Army members.

Another drop of 38,000 meals by U.S. and Jordanian personnel took place on March 7.

Footage of that drop showed several dozen of the packages falling under parachutes. Each package was several feet tall and appeared to weigh many hundred pounds. Though the C-130 crews appeared to release the packages over the water, several appeared to be caught by high winds and drifted onto an adjacent beach, making hard landings among crowds of people who had gathered. No one appeared injured from the landings and no reports of injuries emerged from those initial drops. 

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