World

At least 12 Palestinians drown trying to retrieve aid parcels dropped into the sea

March 27, 2024
Footage obtained by CNN shows hundreds of Palestinians rushing to the site of the aid drop in Beit Lahia, in northern Gaza
Footage obtained by CNN shows hundreds of Palestinians rushing to the site of the aid drop in Beit Lahia, in northern Gaza

GAZA — At least 12 Palestinians drowned off the northern Gaza coast near Beit Lahia on Monday while trying to reach airdropped parcels that had landed in the sea, according to local paramedics.

Footage obtained by CNN shows hundreds of Palestinians rushing to the site of the aid drop, with some venturing into the water as parcels crashed down on the shores of Gaza. One graphic scene shows civilians performing CPR on several unresponsive bodies in a desperate attempt to resuscitate them.

Abu Mohammad, who witnessed the incident, told CNN the aid was dropped far from the coast into the sea, after which multiple men “who don’t know how to swim drowned” while trying to retrieve it.

“There were strong currents and all the parachutes fell in the water. People want to eat and are hungry,” he said. “I haven’t been able to receive anything. The youth can run and get these aid (drops), but for us it’s a different story.

“We call for the opening of the crossings in a proper fashion, but these humiliating methods are not acceptable,” added Abu Mohammad.

Earlier this month, at least five people were killed and 10 others injured when airdropped aid packages fell on them in Al Shati camp west of Gaza City, according to a journalist on the scene. Human rights groups have repeatedly criticized airdrops as an inefficient and degrading way of getting aid to Gazans, instead urging Israeli authorities to lift controls on land crossings into the enclave.

Hamas has called on Western countries to end airdrops of aid into Gaza, warning that the humanitarian delivery method is “offensive, wrong, inappropriate and useless.” Hamas has from the outset been critical of airdrops, describing them as “useless” and “not the best way to bring aid in.”

Israel’s severe restrictions on aid entering the Gaza Strip have drained essential supplies, condemning the entire population of more than 2.2 million people to the risk of famine, according to a UN-backed report. Humanitarian bodies including Oxfam and Human Rights Watch have warned Israel is “using starvation of civilians as a weapon of war in Gaza, which is a war crime.” Israel insists there is “no limit” on the amount of aid that can enter Gaza, but its inspection regime means relief is barely trickling in.

Still, a senior US defense official said Tuesday there had been a “significant increase” in the amount of aid flowing into Gaza through various crossings, resulting in nearly 200 trucks coming in a day, up from about 100 trucks a day in February.

The deaths came a day after Washington stepped aside and allowed the UN Security Council to pass a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The resolution, proposed by the 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council, demands an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan, the immediate and unconditional release of hostages and “the urgent need to expand the flow” of aid into Gaza.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz pushed back against the demand, saying his country would not abide by the resolution. Following the UN vote on Monday, Amnesty International said Israeli authorities “must immediately halt their brutal bombing campaign in Gaza and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.” It added that, “Civilian hostages must be immediately released.”

It is unclear which country launched the specific airdrop on Monday that led to fatalities. Egypt, Germany, the UK, the US, Singapore, and a joint UAE-Jordanian mission all flew airdrops over Gaza on Monday, though the Israel Defense Forces told CNN it can’t confirm the exact timings of the airdrops by various countries. CNN has reached out to all the ministries of defense of the countries who carried out air drops around that time.

The Pentagon said Tuesday that three bundles of aid out of the 80 delivered during the US airdrop over Gaza Monday had landed in the sea after a parachute malfunction.

“During yesterday’s humanitarian air drop, which included approximately 80 bundles, three bundles were reported to have had parachute malfunctions and landed in the water,” Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said. “It is important to note that drop zones are chosen to mitigate potential failures of parachutes to deploy. These humanitarian aid drops occur over water and the wind causes the bundles to drift over to land. In the event of a parachute malfunction the bundles land in the water.”

Another eyewitness to the mass drowning in Beit Lahia urged regional leaders to “look at us and have mercy on us.”

“No one is looking after us,” Abu Mahmoud al-Nather told CNN. “We are dying, our children are dying. What are you doing? Where is the world’s conscience?” — CNN


March 27, 2024
370 views
HIGHLIGHTS
World
10 hours ago

Spain, Norway and Ireland recognize Palestinian state

World
10 hours ago

Several dead in Iowa as storms batter Midwest

World
10 hours ago

UN halts Rafah food distribution due to shortages and hostilities