Biden promises aid air drops into Gaza amid humanitarian catastrophe: "We need to do more"

Washington DC - President Joe Biden said Friday that the United States would start to deliver relief supplies from the air into Gaza, a day after more than 100 Palestinians were killed at an aid convoy.

President Biden has promised more US aid into Gaza after more than 100 Palestinians were killed at an aid convoy.
President Biden has promised more US aid into Gaza after more than 100 Palestinians were killed at an aid convoy.  © SAUL LOEB / AFP

"We need to do more, and the United States will do more," Biden told reporters at the White House at the start of a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

"In the coming days, we're going to join with our friends in Jordan and others in providing air drops of additional food and supplies," Biden said in the Oval Office.

The United States would also look at a possible "marine corridor" to deliver large amounts of aid into Gaza, where residents face dire shortages of food, water, and medicine, Biden said.

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The president added that he would "insist" that ally Israel, which has pounded the Palestinian territory since the October 7 Hamas attacks, let in more aid trucks.

"No excuses, because the truth is aid flowing to Gaza is nowhere near enough. Innocent lives are on the line and children's lives are on the line," Biden added.

During his remarks Biden twice said Ukraine, but the White House confirmed he meant Gaza.

Biden said Thursday's aid convoy massacre happened because Gazans were "caught in a terrible war, unable to feed their families – and you saw the response when they tried to get aid."

Biden added that "hopefully we'll know shortly" on the progress of negotiations towards a six-week ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

The United States has backed Israel since the October 7 attacks and supplied it with weapons, but it has also urged its ally to reduce Palestinian civilian deaths, saying they are much too high.

Washington has also been pushing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow more aid in, with the United Nations warning of imminent famine in northern Gaza.

US continues to provide military support for Israel

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby affirmed that the US is still providing military support to Israel despite the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby affirmed that the US is still providing military support to Israel despite the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.  © Chip Somodevilla / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

The White House said Biden had been planning air drops for some time but that the need for them was pressed home by the aid trucks horror in Gaza.

"What yesterday's event underscores, and certainly underscored for the president, is the need to continue to find alternative routes" for aid, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

The United States planned to carry out multiple air drops that would last weeks.

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"This isn't going to be one and done," Kirby told reporters at a briefing.

But it was also a "tough military operation" that required careful planning by the Pentagon for the safety of both Gazan civilians and US military personnel.

"It is extremely difficult to do an airdrop in such a crowded environment as is Gaza," said Kirby.

The United States also had to manage the risks to its own personnel. "This is a war zone. So there's an added element of potential danger to the pilots in the aircraft," he added.

Kirby said Israel was meanwhile "seriously" investigating the aid convoy deaths, in which 115 Palestinians were killed after Israeli troops opened fire during a delivery. An Israeli source acknowledged the military opened fire on the crowd, adding that the soldiers believed the civilians "posed a threat."

Washington would continue to support Israel militarily despite the growing humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, Kirby said.

"We are still helping Israel with their needs to defend themselves," he said.

Cover photo: SAUL LOEB / AFP

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