1 of 3 | The first of three U.S. military aircraft carrying humanitarian aid for Gaza was scheduled to touch down Tuesday in Egypt's North Sinai from where it will be trucked across the border into the strip, said senior Biden administration officials. Palestinians seen here queued in front of a gas station to fill their kitchen cylinders, in Rafah, southern Gaza, on Sunday. Photo by Ismail Muhammad/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 28 (UPI) -- The first of three U.S. military aircraft carrying humanitarian aid for Gaza was scheduled to touch down Tuesday in Egypt's North Sinai from where it will be trucked by the United Nations across the border into the strip, the White House said.
The airlifts into the city of El Arish, about 30 miles southwest of Gaza, include medical supplies, food and cold weather gear to help protect the large numbers of Palestinians in temporary shelters from approaching wintery and wet weather, according to a senior administration official.
Harnessing the "unique capabilities" of the U.S. military, the "significant contribution" of aid will be distributed by the U.N., replenishing stocks depleted by the rush of aid flowing into Gaza since the temporary truce began Friday.
"The movement over the last four or five days of assistance has been so significant in volume that a backfill into El-Arish is now needed. These planes are part of that backfill," an official said.
"There's quite a quantity of goods on route to El-Arish from other destinations but this is a significant contribution at a moment when that fill is very much needed."
Two more relief flights are scheduled to arrive in "the coming days."
The latest aid flights are the first by the U.S. military following five previous shipments using commercial carriers, with officials stressing the effort to help supply civilians was ongoing and would continue going forward -- even when the truce expires and fighting re-starts.
The administration is also talking with Israel regarding the resumption of "sustained delivery" of commercial goods into Gaza, alongside aid, with officials saying that everyone "from the president on down" was clear that the goods currently reaching Gaza were inadequate to support "normal life."
The U.S. aid is in addition to the approximately 200 trucks delivering fuel, food and water that have crossed into Gaza each day since the truce began Friday.
Officials denied that the relief flights would ramp up pressure on Israel, stressing that while they would like to see the pause continue for as long as possible the administration's only intention was to get in aid to try to meet demand.
"The intent here is simply to ensure that significant flow of humanitarian assistance are arriving quickly into Arish."
Palestinian children line up to receive a portion of food at a makeshift charity kitchen in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on November 8, 2023. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo