View from a US military aid flight shows Gaza desolation

By Thomson Reuters Mar 12, 2024 | 3:59 PM

By Suleiman Al-Khalidi

OVER GAZA (Reuters) – As a U.S C-130 aircraft flew over the Gaza Strip to drop food to people facing famine, there were few visible signs of life in the jumbled rubble of what was a bustling urban jungle before the Israel-Hamas war.

The plane descended to 3,000 feet over the Mediterranean Sea and northern Gaza. A U.S. Air Force crew cut ropes on aid pallets packed in Jordan and released a dozen large bundles with parachutes from the C-130’s open rear doors.

The food aid was targeted for north Gaza, where the need is most desperate, and brought the total air-dropped by the U.S. military in cooperation with Western and Arab countries since March 3 to 1 million pounds, the military said.

The view of Gaza from above revealed many flattened buildings, others in stages of collapsing or entirely turned to charred rubble from an Israeli offensive that started after a Hamas attack on Oct. 7. Plumes of smoke rose from the ruins.

A United Nations analysis of satellite imagery found 30% of buildings have been destroyed or damaged in the Palestinian enclave of 2.3 million people. Many roads have been bulldozed and are impassable.

According to Gaza health authorities, more than 31,000 people have been killed, and the U.N. says one-quarter of the population is a step away from famine.

Aid agencies and governments are trying to increase the flow of food and other vital supplies to Gaza via road and sea because air drops are expensive and limited in capacity.

The White House is pressing Israel to allow greater access by land. Israel denies restricting humanitarian aid and says poor U.N. management of distribution is to blame.

The war began after Hamas fighters attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. Israel retaliated with an air and ground assault.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Additioanal reporting by Jehad Abu Shelbak; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)