Hamas Signals No Breakthrough in Talks on Cease-Fire With Israel: Live Updates

Jordan and France airdropped food and other supplies to people in Gaza on Monday, parachuting some packages of aid into the sea, a challenging effort that underlined the desperate need in Gaza as aid groups have warned of growing restrictions on their ability to distribute supplies.

Video footage showed a cluster of parachutes falling into the sea near Deir al Balah, a city in central Gaza. Men in small boats paddled out through choppy water to retrieve the aid, watched by a crowd of hundreds who scrambled for the packages once they had reached the shore.

Alaa Fayad, a veterinary student who shot footage of the scene on the beach that he posted online, said the aid did not amount to much. “It was sad seeing people I know well running and crowding to get aid that’s not nearly enough,” he said.

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Large crowds gathered along the coast in Deir al Balah on Monday as Jordan and France airdropped food and other aid supplies, some of which ended up in the sea.CreditCredit…Alaa Fayad, via X

Three planes from the Royal Jordanian Air Force and one from its French counterpart dropped the supplies, including ready-made meals, over several sites, the Jordanian Army said in a statement. The French plane dropped more than two tons of food and hygiene supplies, the French foreign ministry said.

The amount is just a fraction of what the United Nations says is the need facing Gaza’s more than two million residents. The two tons of aid dropped by the French plane is less than a single truckload of supplies.

Aid groups typically drop supplies by air only as a last resort, given the inefficiency and relative cost of the method compared to road deliveries, as well as the risk to people who could potentially be hit as it falls to the ground.

Still, France, which participated in an earlier airdrop, said it was ramping up its work with Jordan because Gaza’s “humanitarian situation is absolutely urgent,” according to a French foreign ministry statement.

“With a growing number of civilians in Gaza dying of hunger and disease,” the statement said, there need to be more avenues for aid deliveries, including the port of Ashdod in Israel, north of Gaza.

Jordan began airdropping aid in November and has completed more than a dozen missions since, largely to resupply its field hospitals in Gaza. At least one airdrop mission was jointly carried out with France in January, and two others delivered aid supplied by the Netherlands and Britain.

Israeli officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the drops. In previous airdrops, Jordan said it had coordinated its efforts with the Israeli authorities, who have insisted on inspecting all aid entering Gaza.

Calls for internationally coordinated airdrops have intensified as aid groups simultaneously warn that the hunger crisis in Gaza is reaching a tipping point and that some obstacles to traditional aid distribution have become insurmountable.

Last week, the World Food Program suspended food deliveries to northern Gaza, saying that despite extreme needs there, it could not safely operate amid gunfire and the “collapse of civil order” in recent days. The W.F.P. and other United Nations aid agencies have repeatedly warned that their access to northern Gaza was being systematically impeded by Israeli authorities, calling on the government to ease its restrictions. Israel has denied blocking aid deliveries.

The suspension of W.F.P. deliveries in an area where they are needed most indicates that, despite their many limitations, airdrops may be one of the few viable options remaining to quickly get food to northern Gaza, according to Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib, a Middle East policy analyst who grew up in the enclave. Jordan’s airdrops, he said, have set a “critical precedent” for the feasibility of the approach.

“Simply wishing for a cease-fire or simply wishing for better Israeli cooperation” is not enough, Mr. Fouad Alkhatib said. “We need action right now.”

Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Nader Ibrahim contributed reporting.