The hollow gesture of US food drops in Gaza

The hollow gesture of US food drops in Gaza

As the world watches in horror, the Gaza Strip, already ravaged by months of Israeli atrocities, has begun to face a humanitarian catastrophe: famine. While the death toll from Israel’s relentless aggression has surpassed 30,000, the Famine Review Committee, the gold-standard international body that analyses famine risk, warns that Gaza teeters on the brink of starvation. Reports are already pouring in of children succumbing to malnutrition.

In a world equipped with sophisticated famine early-warning systems with a reliability comparable to hurricane early-warning systems, witnessing such a crisis unfold before our eyes feels like a dystopian nightmare.

Amidst this crisis, the United States, under President Joe Biden, announced a food drop operation for the besieged Gaza Strip. United States military cargo planes have air-dropped over 38,000 meals along the coastline of Gaza and apparently will carry out multiple airdrops in the next few weeks. While this gesture may seem noble at first glance, it falls drastically short of addressing the root causes of the crisis. The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs thus has every right in the world to criticize the US, slamming it by declaring that it “…behaves as a weak marginal country unable to secure the entry of aid to the hungry in the Gaza Strip.”

The US has been complicit in Israel’s actions in Gaza from the very beginning, providing economic aid, political backing, and military assistance to Benjamin Netanyahu’s regime. It is the U.S. that has enabled fully the killing machine of the Zionist regime that is responsible for the ongoing genocide. While the U.S. military’s C-103 planes were dropping food on Gaza, countless numbers of its F-16s, F-15s, F-22s, and F-35s provided to Israel continue dropping bombs over the Palestinians there. This announcement of a food drop operation thus is merely a symbolic face-saving act for the Biden administration, especially aimed at appeasing his domestic base amidst a crisis of confidence. The fact that this operation is announced shortly after a protest “uncommitted” vote in Michigan, where more than 100,000 Michigan Democratic primary voters cast ballots for “uncommitted” in the race couldn’t be a mere coincidence.

Moreover, the method chosen for aid delivery is deeply flawed. Airdrops, as per the World Food Program, are not only seven times more costly than ground deliveries but also less efficient in delivering aid in significant quantities. There is also no guarantee that the aid will reach its intended recipients, as evidenced by previous drops where supplies fell into the sea or ended up in Israeli territory. In the latest incident, at least five people were killed and 10 others injured when airdropped aid packages fell on them in the Al Shati camp west of Gaza City.

This begs the question: Why is Biden forced to resort to these costly, inefficient airdrops? For other parties such as Jordan, the answer is clear: there are no other choices. Israel has barred the entry of food, water, medicine, and other supplies, except for a tiny trickle of aid entering from Egypt at the Rafah crossing and Israel’s Karem Abu Salem crossing. Currently, more than 2,000 trucks are stuck waiting to enter Gaza, with food and medicines piled up past their expiry dates.

Israel has also destroyed what little aid has managed to pass through the border into Gaza. A clearly marked UN relief convoy waiting at an Israeli military checkpoint was bombarded by Israeli naval forces on February 5, despite having clearance from the Israeli military in advance. Worse still, just last week, more than 112 Palestinians were killed and over 750 wounded after Israeli troops opened fire on hundreds waiting for food aid southwest of Gaza City, an event dubbed the “Flour Massacre.”

But, it makes little sense for the US, a global superpower, to resort to airdrop operations when it has a “special ally” in Israel that controls most of the border with Gaza. Therefore, this serves as a testament to the waning influence of the US over its subordinate, Israel. In fact, the Biden administration now is also considering shipping aid by sea from Cyprus, with the recent announcement during his State of the Union address to set up a temporary pier off Gaza to deliver humanitarian supplies.

For too long, the influence of the Israel lobby in US politics has been an open secret. Yet, with the current rise of hard-line extremist government in Israel, the US seems to have lost total control and influence over its ally, resorting to being the yes-man in this relationship. Joe Biden is even willing to risk US standing on the global stage and his own chances in the next US Presidential Election for the sake of his Big Brother.

With the famine catastrophe looming over Gaza, the US can do nothing but become Israel’s lapdog. The United States and other key donors have acceded to Israel’s bidding to pause funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This funding freeze has halted the agency’s operations, whereas eighty percent of aid to Gaza is delivered via UNRWA. If UNRWA shuts down, no other agency can step into the breach in the timeframe required to avert famine.

Muhamad Sayuti Mansor is a Research Fellow at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia. He can be contacted at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published: 14 March 2024, on Bebas News Online.