An airdrop failure in the northern Gaza Strip left five people dead and ten others injured on Friday morning. The failed airdrop occurred near the coastal refugee camp of al-Shati, a heavily affected area grappling with the conflict.

A pallet of aid, part of the airdrop initiative, struck a group of individuals, including men, teenagers, and younger children who were seeking essential supplies. The parachute attached to the aid pallet failed to deploy properly, causing the parcel to plummet onto the unsuspecting crowd.

The casualties were transported to Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital, as confirmed by Mohammed al-Sheikh, the head nurse of the emergency room. The victims included both men and children.

In northern Gaza, where the airdrop occurred, several hundred thousand people are facing famine and living amid the ruins of their homes without essential services like sewage and electricity.

The United States and Jordan are among the countries that have conducted airdrops in northern Gaza to address the dire humanitarian situation. However, a US defence official has stated that the US airdrop did not cause the fatalities. Similarly, a Jordanian military source claimed that none of their aircraft was responsible for the casualties.

US Central Command has acknowledged reports of civilians killed in humanitarian airdrops, expressing sympathies to the families affected. However, they denied responsibility, stating, “Contrary to some reports, this was not the result of U.S. airdrops.”

The government media office in Gaza criticised the airdrop initiatives as “futile” and stated that they are “not the best way for aid to enter.” Humanitarian aid delivery faces significant challenges in the region due to logistic obstacles, the breakdown of public order, and lengthy bureaucratic processes imposed by Israel.

Israel’s restrictions on entry points, permitting only southern access, have forced aid convoys to navigate up to 25 miles (40km) of damaged roads riddled with rubble, exposing them to constant threats of looting.

Israeli forces have frequently blocked or delayed aid convoys, stopping or restricting the timely delivery of crucial supplies. Last week, Israeli forces opened fire on a crowd of Palestinians seeking aid, killing at least 118 people and inuring nearly 800 others. The Israeli military officials initially made conflicting statements and now claim that most deaths were caused due to a stampede, which is strongly contested by Palestinian officials, witnesses, and aid agencies.

Meanwhile, the communications director at the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, Juliette Touma, has said they would welcome any effort to increase humanitarian aid flow to Gaza but emphasised the importance of more consistent deliveries via road crossings connecting Gaza with Israel.

EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, calls for increased pressure on the Israeli government to grant uninterrupted humanitarian land access, stating that other options like airdrops are insufficient and sea corridors take time.

The UN insists that airdrops or proposed maritime aid corridors cannot substitute for land deliveries, urging increased permission for trucks to reach Gaza through additional border crossings.

US President Joe Biden has instructed the US military to construct a pier on Gaza’s coast to facilitate maritime aid shipments. The Pentagon press secretary, Patrick Ryder, stated that the construction process involves deploying 1,000 US troops and is expected to take one to two months. The construction of the pier represents an alternative approach to address the urgent need for aid, but concerns persist about the efficiency of the operation and its ability to meet the immediate needs of the population.

Israel will be responsible for overseeing the security of the pier, and aid will need to be offloaded onto it before being transferred by smaller military vessels to Gaza’s coast. However, aid groups argue that this plan is time-consuming and inefficient compared to delivering aid through land crossings. Save the Children expressed concern that waiting for the construction of a maritime pier may aggravate the daily worsening crisis, particularly in the face of famine.

President Biden acknowledged the challenges in achieving a ceasefire agreement in Gaza by the start of Ramadan.

Three more children succumbed to malnutrition and dehydration at Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital, bringing the confirmed toll from starvation to 23. At least 30,878 Palestinians have been killed and 72,402 injured in Israeli attacks on Gaza since 7 October.

Palestinians in Gaza are expressing cynicism and scepticism about the maritime corridor plan, claiming that it is insufficient to meet the substantial aid needs in the region and poses significant logistical challenges. The established and efficient method for delivering aid through land crossings had been in operation for two decades prior to 7 October.

Many Palestinians question the necessity of the maritime corridor initiative when there is already a cheaper, viable, and operational alternative through the existing land crossings. Sultan Barakat, a professor of public policy at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, goes further to suggest that the US announcement of a maritime aid corridor serves as a distraction from the aid trucks waiting at the Egyptian border.

Barakat believes that the timing of the announcement is strategic, aiming to shift attention away from the aid at the Egyptian border. He suggests that the announcement helps President Joe Biden domestically by allowing him to make a constructive statement related to Palestine amid mounting pressure.

The professor notes that Biden had initially aimed to present a ceasefire, which did not materialise, making the maritime aid corridor a convenient alternative in response to the situation.