American and Jordanian C-130 cargo planes airdropped more than 38,000 meals into the Gaza Strip today, the first such American operation to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinians there since the war in Gaza began. United States Central Command says that more are to come. 

The C-130s dropped 66 bundles over the Gaza coastline, containing more than 38,000 meals ready to eat as well as water for Palestinians in need of supplies. The operations was carried out by personnel from the Royal Jordanian Air Force personnel and U.S. Air Force and Army members. 

The operation comes two days after more than 100 Palestinians in Gaza were killed while trying to access a delivery of food in the strip. Israeli forces opened fire on civilians try to get to the aid, injuring more than 200 others. United Nations medical officials report widespread instances of gunshot wounds in those dead or injured on Thursday. The killings have drawn widespread condemnation and President Joe Biden cited them when announcing plans to airdrop assistance into Gaza. 

U.S. officials speaking on anonymity told reporters that the coastal locations were chosen as drop sites as they presented the safest space for civilians to access the food. The U.S. military monitored the aftermath of the drop to confirm and see that people were able to reach the bundles of food and water.  It’s unclear as of press time if there is an on-the-ground plan for distributing the aid or how the United States and Jordan intend for it to be widely distributed. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has been warning of the risk of widespread starvation and famine in Gaza, citing several cases of children dying as a result of malnutrition as Gaza remains largely cut off from outside supplies. More than a quarter of the population is at risk of famine, according to the UN. 

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Speaking on Friday, March 1, President Biden said that “the United States will do more and in the coming days,” raising the possibility of “a marine corridor delivering large amounts of humanitarian assistance.”

The airdrops are the first direct use of military resources by the United States in the now months-long war. Outside of additional maritime and aerial assets deployed as deterrents to the Middle East following the Oct. 7 terror attacks, the U.S. military has been flying uncrewed aerial vehicles over Israel and Gaza as part of an effort to locate the multinational group of hostages held by Hamas.

It is the first time the United States airdropped humanitarian assistance into the Gaza Strip, although Jordan has previously done so. Egypt also airdropped new aid into the northern part of the Gaza Strip on Saturday. 

“We are conducting planning for potential follow-on airborne aid delivery missions,” CENTCOM said in a statement. 

CENTCOM said that today’s operation is meant to be part of a wider move to bring more humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip through several corridors, although it did not elaborate on what form those would take.  

Since the Oct. 7 terror attacks and the start of the war in Gaza, at least 30,228 people have died in Gaza including more than 12,000 children. At least 1,139 people in Israel have died. Those figures are according to al-Jazeera, citing multiple sources.

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