Gazans Drown Trying to Retrieve Airdropped Aid, Authorities Say

The authorities in Gaza said on Tuesday that several people had drowned while trying to retrieve airdropped aid that had fallen into the Mediterranean, the latest incident in which an airdrop has apparently led to deaths. They called for an end to airdrops over the territory and an increase in deliveries by land.

People waded into the water from a beach in northern Gaza on Monday afternoon to get the eve aid packages, according to Ahmed Abu Qamar, a Gazan-based researcher for EuroMed Rights, a human rights group, who said he had spoken to witnesses. Around a dozen people drowned, including at least one who had become entangled in a parachute, he said. Others were taken to a nearby hospital.

Thegovernment media office in Gaza issued a statement about the drownings, but it was not possible to confirm the details independently.

The United Nations and other aid organizations say that trucks, rather than planes, are the cheapest, safest and most effective means of delivering aid to Gaza, a territory whose population of more than two million faces a hunger crisis that humanitarian organizations say borders on famine.

But governments including the United States, France, Jordan and Egypt have in recent weeks used airdrops to supplement aid that arrives by land, while also calling on Israel to allow in more trucks.

The airdrops are not without risk. The authorities in Gaza said earlier this month that at least five Palestinians had been killed and several others wounded when humanitarian aid fell on them in Gaza City.

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