UK joins countries in largest international aid drop into Gaza since war began

Nine countries including Britain have carried out the largest international aid airdrop into Gaza since the conflict began, as the Israeli prime minister escalated his pledge to invade the southern city of Rafah.

Led by the Jordanian Armed Forces and coinciding with Eid al-Fitr to mark the end of Ramadan, hundreds of tonnes of resources were delivered into the war-torn enclave.

The US, Germany, France, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands and Egypt also took part, the Ministry of Defence said.

The operation, which the MoD said is the biggest international aid drop on a single day since the war began last October, came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “there is a date” for the planned invasion of Rafah.

Israel’s closest ally, the US, has joined the international community in opposing the incursion and demanded to see a credible plan to protect civilians.

Mr Netanyahu has repeatedly said the country must send ground forces into Rafah, saying it is Hamas’ last stronghold in Gaza.

An RAF A400M plane flew on Tuesday from Amman, Jordan to airdrop more than 10 tonnes of aid, including ready-to-eat meals, water and rice, along the northern coastline of Gaza.

The flight took about an hour, with other countries’ aircraft dropping aid throughout the course of the day.

Lord Cameron, who is visiting Washington DC, where he is expected to face questions about arms exports to Israel during a press conference, said Britain would “continue to push Israel as hard as we can” to boost aid access.

In a statement, the Foreign Secretary said: “Led by our Jordanian partners, we have joined nations around the world to mark the end of Ramadan by getting life-saving aid into Gaza. Thousands of people in desperate need will benefit from this united effort.

“The UK remains ready to play its part in getting supplies in by land, air and sea, but the people of Gaza need more.

“We continue to push Israel as hard as we can to get more aid across the border and delivered throughout the region. Words must turn into action – this is essential to avoid an even more severe humanitarian crisis.”

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The prospect of famine in Gaza is real and today’s international airdrop will provide life-saving food supplies for civilians.

“This is the sixth RAF airdrop in recent weeks, delivering over 53 tonnes of aid, including water, flour and baby formula.

“After six months of war in Gaza, the toll on civilians continues to grow. We continue to stand by Israel’s right to defeat the threat from Hamas terrorists, who have failed the people of Gaza and hide behind civilians.

“This terrible conflict must end. The hostages must be released and the aid must flood in.”

Sunday marked six months since the war began and almost a week since seven aid workers, including three British nationals, were killed in an Israeli air strike.

John Chapman, 57, James “Jim” Henderson, 33, and James Kirby, 47, were among those who died on April 1, prompting condemnation from London and other Western capitals.

There have been calls from some quarters for Britain to suspend arms sales to Israel in the wake of the killings, which the Israel Defence Forces said were a “grave mistake.”

The UK’s arms exports regime would prevent the supply of weapons if there is a “clear risk that the items might be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of international humanitarian law”.

But the Government has refused to bow to pressure from opposition parties and some Conservatives to publish its legal advice on Israel’s compliance with international humanitarian law.

Israel has withdrawn troops from Khan Younis, another southern city where they were deployed last year as part of its ground offensive that came in response to a Hamas-led attack on October 7.

Israeli authorities say 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed and roughly 250 people taken hostage.

More than 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in the following seven months, according to local health authorities, with most of the territory’s 2.3 million people displaced and vast swathes of the Gaza Strip now uninhabitable.