Gazans Drown Trying to Retrieve Aid From Sea, Authorities Say

By John Mercury March 28, 2024

The authorities in Gaza said late Tuesday that a total of 12 people had drowned while trying to retrieve airdropped aid that had fallen into the Mediterranean, calling for an end to the airdrops — a last resort to get urgently needed food and other supplies into the enclave — and an increase in deliveries by land.

People waded into the water from a beach in northern Gaza on Monday afternoon to get the aid packages, according to Ahmed Abu Qamar, a Gaza-based researcher for EuroMed Rights, a human rights group, who said he had spoken to witnesses. He also said that around a dozen people had drowned, saying that at least one had become entangled in a parachute.

It was not possible to confirm the details independently and it was not clear which country was responsible for the airdrop in question.

Three of approximately 80 aid bundles dropped by the United States on Monday “were reported to have had parachute malfunctions and landed in the water,” a Pentagon spokeswoman, Sabrina Singh, said at a news conference on Tuesday.

The aid was intentionally dropped over water and intended to be carried to land by wind drift, to mitigate potential harm in the event that the parachutes failed to deploy, Ms. Singh said.

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said on Wednesday that the Biden administration expressed “condolences to the families of those who died.” But she did not confirm whether the aid packages that had fallen into the sea were dropped by the United States.

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