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GAZA STRIP: A humanitarian airdrop in the north of the Palestinian territory on Friday killed five people and wounded ten others, a medic at Gaza’s largest hospital said.
The casualties were taken to Gaza City’s Al-Shifa hospital, the emergency room’s head nurse, Mohammed Al-Sheikh, told AFP.
Sheikh said the deadly airdrop occurred north of the coastal Al-Shati refugee camp.
A witness from the camp said he and his brother followed the parachuted aid in the hope of getting “a bag of flour.”
“Then, all of a sudden, the parachute didn’t open and fell down like a rocket on the roof of one of the houses,” said Mohammed Al-Ghoul.
“Ten minutes later I saw people transferring three martyrs and others injured, who were staying on the roof of the house where the aid packages fell,” the 50-year-old told AFP.
The United States and Jordan are among the countries to have carried out airdrops in northern Gaza, where hundreds of thousands of people are facing dire conditions after more than five months of war.
Both Jordan’s military and a US defense official denied that aircraft from either country caused the fatalities.

The airdrop was also carried out in partnership with Belgium, Egypt, France and the Netherlands

“The technical defect that caused some parachutes carrying aid not to open and to fall freely to the ground during the airdrop on Gaza on Friday was not from a Jordanian aircraft,” the source said.

“The four Jordanian aircraft that carried out the airdrop in partnership with five other countries carried out its mission without any glitches.”

Referring to the five killed on Friday, the government media office in Hamas-run Gaza said airdrops were “futile” and “not the best way for aid to enter.”

As an alternative to the airdrops, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Friday said a maritime corridor could open this Sunday, though crucial details of the planned operation remained unclear.

Von der Leyen said “an initial pilot operation” would be launched on Friday, and the United Arab Emirates had helped activate the corridor “by securing the first of many shipments of goods to the people of Gaza.”

Her announcement came after US President Joe Biden, in Thursday’s annual State of the Union address, said the US military would establish a “temporary pier” off Gaza’s coast to bring in aid.

But the United Nations said airdrops or a proposed maritime aid corridor cannot be a substitute for land deliveries, urging more trucks to be permitted to reach Gaza through more border crossings.

Michael Fakhri, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, said Washington’s “absurd” pier proposal would not “prevent starvation and famine by any definition.”

British foreign minister David Cameron said “we need 500 trucks a day or more going into Gaza,” but the past five days have averaged just 123.

“That needs to be fixed now,” he told BBC radio, also calling on Israel to ensure the “full resumption” of water and electricity supplies.

The situation is particularly acute in Gaza’s north, where desperate residents have swarmed the aid trucks which do make it in to the territory.

On February 29, more than 100 Palestinians were killed when Israeli forces opened fire on crowds scrambling for aid from a convoy in north Gaza, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

Israel’s military said Friday its initial investigation found troops “fired precisely” at suspects who posed a threat to them.

Roughly 1.5 million Palestinians have sought refuge in Rafah, in Gaza’s far south, but there, too, they are not safe.

Hamas’s unprecedented October attack on southern Israel resulted in about 1,160 deaths, most of them civilians, according to Israeli official figures.

Israel has responded with a relentless offensive that the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said has killed at least 30,878 people, mostly women and children.

Hamas militants took about 250 hostages, some of whom were released during a week-long truce in November. Israel believes 99 hostages remain alive in Gaza and that 31 have died.

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