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Palestinians drown trying to retrieve aid drops in the sea

By AbdelQadder Sabbah, Kareem Khadder, Jomana Karadesh, Abeer Salman and Sana Noor Haq | CNN
At least 12 Palestinians drowned off the northern Gaza coast near Beit Lahia on Monday while trying to reach airdropped parcels that had landed in the sea, according to local paramedics.
Footage obtained by CNN shows hundreds of Palestinians rushing to the site of the aid drop, with some venturing into the water as parcels crashed down on the shores of Gaza. One graphic scene shows civilians performing CPR on several unresponsive bodies in a desperate attempt to resuscitate them.
Abu Mohammad, who witnessed the incident, told CNN the aid was dropped far from the coast into the sea, after which multiple men “who don’t know how to swim drowned” while trying to retrieve it.
“There were strong currents and all the parachutes fell in the water. People want to eat and are hungry,” he said. “I haven’t been able to receive anything. The youth can run and get these aid (drops), but for us it’s a different story.
“We call for the opening of the crossings in a proper fashion, but these humiliating methods are not acceptable,” added Abu Mohammad.
Earlier this month, at least five people were killed and 10 others injured when airdropped aid packages fell on them in Al Shati camp west of Gaza City, according to a journalist on the scene. Human rights groups have repeatedly criticized airdrops as an inefficient and degrading way of getting aid to Gazans, instead urging Israeli authorities to lift controls on land crossings into the enclave.
Hamas has called on Western countries to end airdrops of aid into Gaza, warning that the humanitarian delivery method is “offensive, wrong, inappropriate and useless.” Hamas has from the outset been critical of airdrops, describing them as “useless” and “not the best way to bring aid in.”
Israel’s severe restrictions on aid entering the Gaza Strip have drained essential supplies, condemning the entire population of more than 2.2 million people to the risk of famine, according to a UN-backed report. Humanitarian bodies including Oxfam and Human Rights Watch have warned Israel is “using starvation of civilians as a weapon of war in Gaza, which is a war crime.” Israel insists there is “no limit” on the amount of aid that can enter Gaza, but its inspection regime means relief is barely trickling in.
It came a day after Washington stepped aside and allowed the UN Security Council to pass a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The resolution, proposed by the 10 non-permanent members of the Security Council, demands an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan, the immediate and unconditional release of hostages and “the urgent need to expand the flow” of aid into Gaza.
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It is unclear which country launched the specific airdrop on Monday that led to fatalities. Egypt, Germany, the UK, the US, Singapore, and a joint UAE-Jordanian mission all flew airdrops over Gaza on Monday. CNN has reached out to all the ministries of defense of the countries who carried out air drops around that time and has not received official responses.
Another eyewitness to the mass drowning in Beit Lahia urged regional leaders to “look at us and have mercy on us.”
“No one is looking after us,” Abu Mahmoud al-Nather told CNN. “We are dying, our children are dying. What are you doing? Where is the world’s conscience?”

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