Biden announces the start of US air drops in Gaza - but why not demand land access from Israel?

Credit: AP

President Biden has announced that the US will start air drops of food and medicines into Gaza early next week.

He now says - 145 days into the war, after the death of 30,000 Palestinians, including as many as 13,000 children - that America won’t stand by while Gaza starves.

He has also suggested that he is working for the creation of a “marine corridor” to facilitate the flow of aid.

But to many humanitarian relief experts that will all seem absurd.

Air drops are a method of last resort to reach inaccessible populations in remote areas.

Gaza is surrounded by US allies, with a major Israeli port just to the north.

Gaza is in the grip of near-famine conditions, despite stocks of food and a humanitarian logistical network poised just outside its southern entry point.

Yet the US still hasn't used its leverage with Israel to force in those supplies.

Air drops will rightly be seen as a symbol of American weakness, showing it has no leverage over the very country it funds and arms.

Air drops will also lead to a bizarre spectacle in the skies over Gaza.

US-built war planes, operated by the Israeli Air Force, would be dropping US-made bombs and missiles, while at the same time US cargo planes will be dropping food for the victims of those bombs.

That would neatly sum up the contradictions of current American foreign policy.

Every day, at government briefings, spokespeople for the Biden administration tell us that Israel should show greater effort to minimise civilian casualties.

But when asked if US weapons supplies might be slowed to Israel until that happens, there is an awkward non-response.

US policy towards Gaza is now unsustainable.

Increasing numbers of people in Washington, including Democratic senators, are saying that out loud.

The reputational damage to America in many parts of the world, especially with a younger generation, will take decades to heal, despite the announcement about air drops.

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