U.S. CENTCOM denies responsibility for airdrop tragedy in Gaza

U.S. CENTCOM denies responsibility for airdrop tragedy in Gaza

Shafaq News/ The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) has disclaimed responsibility for the accidental delivery of aid in the Gaza Strip that resulted in the tragic death of five civilians and injuries to several others.

"We are aware of reports of civilians killed as a result of humanitarian airdrops. We express sympathies to the families of those who were killed. Contrary to some reports, this was not the result of U.S. airdrops." The Command said in a statement.

On Friday, at least five people were crushed to death after being hit by aid packages airdropped into Gaza at al-Shati refugee camp, west of Gaza City.

The parachute used to airdrop the aid did not open, causing the boxes to fall directly onto people gathered there in large numbers, hoping to receive some desperately needed and severely limited supplies.

Two people were killed on the spot, while three were severely injured and later died at Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza, according to initial reports from Al Jazeera.

The US, Jordan, Egypt, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium dropped aid over Gaza Friday in an attempt to provide supplies, including desperately needed food, to Palestinians in the Israel-blockaded enclave where already people, mostly children, are dying from malnutrition.

International aid agencies and others have criticized the airdrops as wholly insufficient to meet the needs of the people living in the Palestinian territory.

The United Nations has warned of widespread famine among Gaza's roughly 2.3 million residents, and the global body's top humanitarian aid coordinator, Martin Griffiths, said Friday in a social media post marking six months of war in Gaza that the airdrops were a "last resort."

"All those concerned about the situation in Gaza should put pressure on the Israeli government to grant unimpeded humanitarian land access and not block convoys," the European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Thursday, calling the airdrops "good but insufficient."

At least 20 Palestinians have starved to death in Gaza, Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, said on Wednesday. The youngest baby who died of starvation in the enclave was one day old, according to Dr. Hussam Abu Safiya, director of Kamal Adwan Hospital.

Negotiators from Hamas, Qatar, and Egypt — but not Israel — have tried this week to secure a 40-day cease-fire in time for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which begins early next week. Still, the last reports said the negotiations did not result in any achievements.

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