Airlift: Germany wants to drop aid supplies over Gaza - how it works and where the problems lie

The famine in the Gaza Strip worsens as the war between Israel and Hamas continues.

Airlift: Germany wants to drop aid supplies over Gaza - how it works and where the problems lie

The famine in the Gaza Strip worsens as the war between Israel and Hamas continues. According to the United Nations, well over 500,000 people in the narrow coastal strip are at risk of hunger, and there are increasing reports of children and adults starving to death. Palestinians in Gaza are waiting for food and medicine - but the trucks driving across the border from Israel are not meeting their needs. Apparently the USA and other countries do not trust that the number of trucks will increase quickly, they are looking for interim solutions: The US military is setting up a temporary port with international partners to bring relief supplies to the Gaza Strip by ship. Additionally, several countries are dropping emergency parachute packages. Now Germany also wants to join in.

The Bundeswehr air force is supposed to drop relief supplies over the Gaza Strip. The Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defense have agreed on the deployment. Defense Minister Boris Pistorius issued a corresponding order to the Bundeswehr on Wednesday. The C-130J-30 Super Hercules aircraft, which are to be used and can transport eight tons of load, are currently stationed in the northern French city of Évreux - a departure would be possible within the next. For the airlift, there should be a shuttle service between Jordan and the Gaza Strip. How many aircraft will be used is still unclear. Last week, Jordanian planes dropped several tons of aid packages from the “World Food Program,” which is also co-financed by Germany.

France, Belgium, the Netherlands, the USA, Jordan and Egypt have already dropped aid packages on the Gaza Strip. Videos on social media show that the packages contain meals such as spaghetti with beef, coffee and cookies, as well as hygiene items. It is not certain whether the help always reaches civilians. The packages could be accumulated and sold at high prices, for example by the terrorist organization Hamas, which is in power in the Gaza Strip. Experts on aid in crisis areas also fear that the packages could accidentally end up in areas with explosive devices and lure starving people there. Or even injure residents when landing, as has already happened in the past few days.

The temporary port that the USA is planning will be a kind of landing pier made of stones. Landing craft could dock there and unload supplies. From there, according to the current status, the deliveries would have to be transported by local organizations. For example through the United Nations Palestinian Relief Agency, UNRWA. However, some of the organization's employees are accused of cooperating with Hamas. The largest donors, the USA and Germany, have stopped payments. However, UNRWA is largely responsible for providing care to the Palestinians. Whether there can be an alternative is controversial.

There are only two border crossings open to Gaza: the one in southern Gaza in Rafah on the border with Egypt and the crossing on the border with Israel, Kerem Shalom. The Erez border crossing in northern Gaza remains closed for the time being. Israel fears that the shipments could smuggle weapons to Hamas and has therefore introduced a strict inspection system. Deliveries are backing up. Israel has repeatedly promised to deploy more scanners and staff at the crossings. In fact, that hasn't happened yet.

Since October 7th - when Hamas killed 1,200 people in Israel and kidnapped and raped others - Israel's army has been fighting the organization with major offensives in the Gaza Strip. The United States and other countries continually warn Israel to allow more supplies into the Gaza Strip. Far more aid supplies could reach Gaza in less time by land than by air or water.

The first civil airlift was established in Pomerania in 1920 to fly in eligible voters. Poland had made train travel more difficult in areas cut off from the German Empire. During the Second World War, airlifts were primarily used to supply encircled soldiers with weapons, ammunition and food, for example in Demyansk, Russia, Stalingrad and Tunisia.

The most famous airlift came about in 1948 after the blockade of Berlin. Between June 26, 1948 and September 30, 1949, the Western Allies supplied almost 2.2 million people in West Berlin with food, clothing, fuel and other goods. During that time, a total of 277,569 so-called “cherry bombers” took off and landed at Berlin-Tempelhof Airport. Later, airlifts were set up primarily to evacuate civilians from disaster areas, for example in 1999 after the Galtür avalanche disaster in South Tyrol.