US military delivers first round of humanitarian aid for Gaza via Egypt

The U.S. military on Tuesday delivered its first of three rounds of humanitarian aid intended for the people of Gaza, according to the Pentagon.

Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters that the U.S. airlifted 24.5 metric tons of U.N. humanitarian supplies to provide ‘vitally needed medical supplies, warm clothing, and food and nutrition assistance to the people of Gaza.’

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) requested that the supplies be flown via a U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo plane, Ryder said. The aircraft arrived earlier Tuesday in Egypt and the aid was to be transported into Gaza and distributed by U.N. agencies.

The 54,000-pound shipment is the first of three U.S. military humanitarian aid flights to northern Egypt for Gaza’s civilian population planned for the coming days.

Ryder said the aid is in addition to the more than 500,000 pounds of food assistance delivered by the United States last week via USAID. 

The humanitarian aid comes after Israel and Hamas agreed to extend a truce and continue swapping hostages for prisoners.

In the weeks since Israel declared war on Hamas for its Oct. 7 attack, thousands of Palestinians have fled south. The U.S. believes that roughly 2 million Palestinians are now in south and central Gaza.

The Biden administration has told Israel that it must work to avoid ‘significant further displacement’ of Palestinian civilians in southern Gaza if it renews its ground campaign aimed at eradicating the Hamas militant group. Administration officials have highlighted that an already stretched humanitarian support network would be overwhelmed by further displacement.

More than 13,300 Palestinians have been killed since the war began, according to estimates from the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza, which does not distinguish between civilians and combatants. Israel has disputed those figures.

More than 1,200 have been killed on the Israeli side, mostly civilians killed in the initial attack on Oct. 7. At least 77 soldiers have been killed in Israel’s ground offensive.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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