Skip to main content

War on Gaza: Airdropped aid humiliates and kills Palestinians - the siege must be lifted

Palestinians in Gaza have been pushed to the brink. A paltry, symbolic aid drop does not help them, but rather deeply humiliates them
Palestinians gather on a beach in the hope of getting aid airdropped over Gaza on 27 February, 2024 (Reuters)

Since Arab and western countries, including the US, began airdropping aid into Gaza, I have wondered: why are they not using land routes, as thousands of trucks stacked with vital humanitarian supplies sit on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing? 

According to a February report from Al Jazeera, aerial and satellite footage showed more than 2,000 aid trucks waiting to cross at Rafah. 

And why are these aid drops coming five months after Israel launched its war on Gaza? While this might seem like a humanitarian effort at first glance, there appear to be ulterior motives at play.

Since the war began last October, international appeals have mounted to bring lifesaving aid to besieged Palestinians in Gaza. But neither these appeals, nor the horrifying video footage that has emerged of starving civilians, has moved neighbouring countries to stop the Israeli atrocities that have killed more than 31,000 people and created conditions of widespread hunger.

Although a trickle of aid is still entering Gaza, it is nowhere near enough. Israel is deliberately depriving Palestinians in Gaza of the basic necessities of life. 

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


The recent wave of airdropped aid came as a surprise to many, accompanied by loud media fanfare. A number of countries have taken part in aid drops, including Egypt, Jordan, France, the UAE, Qatar, and now the US. 

The Biden administration has also announced plans to build a pier on the coast of Gaza to deliver aid via sea - rather ironic, as the Americans simultaneously supply missile systems to Israel. The US is offering humanitarian aid to a population it has helped to devastate. The hypocrisy is breathtaking.

Asserting control

Israel’s strategy entails asserting absolute control over the humanitarian conditions in Gaza. Why would it agree to airdropped aid while obstructing the delivery of vital goods via land - the latter which would be much easier and cheaper?

Regardless of the method, Israel insists on inspecting all aid that enters Gaza. By opting for airdrops and sea bridges instead of utilising the Rafah land crossing, Tel Aviv is sending a message that Cairo’s control over the border area is merely symbolic, while the real levers of power are with Israel alone.

Follow Middle East Eye's live coverage of the Israel-Palestine war

The use of airdrops, especially from Arab countries, also highlights the shortcomings of Arab and American efforts to alleviate the suffering in Gaza. Instead of applying pressure on Israel to open the Rafah crossing, they have circumvented its refusal by launching a more complex, dangerous and expensive aid operation.

Israel routinely uses the media in an attempt to enhance its image and create the perception of humanitarianism in times of war. By showcasing aid planes, it diverts attention from the situation at Rafah and aims to dilute public criticism. But it is crucial to critically examine such narratives and manipulations. 

We are being degraded, and then thrown bits of food for millions of hungry mouths

By ensuring the continuing closure of Rafah, Gaza’s sole gateway to the outside world, Israel further isolates the territory’s Palestinian residents. The airdrops it has allowed, meanwhile, have been disorganised, random and ineffective, failing to address the logistical challenges of aid distribution. 

The aid drops even turned deadly when parachutes failed to deploy and the boxes hurtled towards Gaza, killing five Palestinians who had been eagerly awaiting the delivery of much-needed relief. As one friend in northern Gaza told me: “With us being killed even with the aid airdropping, we have experienced all forms of death.”

As the international community comes together to support the people of Gaza, it is crucial to prioritise the safety and dignity of those in need. We have been pushed to the brink. A paltry, symbolic aid drop, with no plan for its safe distribution, does not help us, but rather deeply humiliates us. 

Those seen in video footage running towards the airdrops come from all walks of life, including doctors, engineers and academics. We are being degraded, and then thrown bits of food for millions of hungry mouths. There is a much easier solution: Israel must immediately open all land crossings into Gaza.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Ghada Abed is a freelance journalist based in the Gaza Strip.
Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.