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Starving Gazans scramble for aid drops to scrounge a can of food

Palestinians crowd together as they wait for food distribution in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip.
| Photo Credit: AP

A military plane banked over the war-ravaged ruins of Gaza City dropping dozens of black parachutes carrying food aid.

On the ground, where almost no building within sight was still standing, hungry men and boys raced towards the beach where most of the aid seemed to have landed.

Dozens of them jostled intensely to get to the food, with scrums forming up and down the rubble-strewn dunes.

“People are dying just to get a can of tuna,” said Mohamad al-Sabaawi, carrying an almost empty bag on his shoulder, a young boy beside him.

“The situation is tragic as if we are in a famine. What can we do? They mock us by giving us a small can of tuna.”

Returning home to Gaza City with little to keep his family going, another Palestinian man said their situation was miserable.

“We are the people of Gaza, waiting for aid drops, willing to die to get a can of beans — which we then share among 18 people,” he said.

Aid groups say only a fraction of the supplies required to meet basic humanitarian needs have arrived in Gaza since October, while the UN has warned of famine in the north of the territory by May without urgent intervention.

The aid entering the Gaza Strip by land is far below pre-war levels, at around 150 vehicles a day compared to at least 500 before the war, according to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

‘Increasingly desperate’

With Gazans increasingly desperate, foreign governments have turned to airdrops, in particular in the hard-to-reach northern parts of the territory including Gaza City.

The United States, France and Jordan are among several countries conducting airdrops on people living within the ruins of what was the besieged territory’s biggest city.

But the aircrews themselves said that the drops were insufficient.

U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jeremy Anderson noted earlier this month that what they were able to deliver was only a “drop in the bucket” of what was needed.

The air operation has also been marred by deaths. Five people on the ground were killed by one drop and 10 others were injured after parachutes malfunctioned, according to a medic in Gaza.

Calls have mounted for Israel to allow in more aid overland, while Israel has blamed the UN and UNRWA for not distributing aid in Gaza.

“Palestinians in Gaza desperately need what has been promised — a flood of aid. Not trickles. Not drops,” UN chief Antonio Guterres said on Sunday after visiting Gaza’s southern border crossing with Egypt at Rafah.

“Looking at Gaza, it almost appears that the four horsemen of war, famine, conquest and death are galloping across it,” he added.

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