First planes in the air: Germany is flying aid supplies to the Gaza Strip

The Defense Minister gives the green light and the German aid flights towards Gaza can begin: Bundeswehr heavy transport planes will soon be dropping humanitarian supplies by parachute over the war zone.

Germany is taking part in aid flights to supply the needy population in the Gaza Strip. In the coming days, pilots from the German Air Force will fly over the war zone with transport aircraft in order to drop urgently needed relief supplies.

“The people of Gaza are lacking the bare necessities. We want to do our part to ensure that they have access to food and medicine,” said Defense Minister Boris Pistorius after giving the green light to the order in mid-week. The Bundeswehr C-130J “Super Hercules” aircraft stationed in France will be used in the short-term mission.

The machines are four-engine transport aircraft from the US manufacturer Lockheed Martin, which were stationed specifically for the German-French air transport squadron at the Évreux site, around 90 kilometers west of Paris.

The Bundeswehr is providing two of these transport aircraft, each of which could transport up to 18 tons of load. “The truth is: the drop is not without danger,” explained Pistorius. “The crews designated for this are trained in the relevant procedures and are very experienced.”

The first of the German aircraft bound for the Gaza Strip took off from Évreux on Wednesday for the relief mission. After a stopover in Toulouse in southern France, the group should first go to Jordan, where the relief supplies are to be loaded.

According to aid organizations, the situation of the people in the coastal strip is becoming increasingly desperate. According to the UN, there is a risk of a hunger crisis if aid deliveries by truck are not increased. Around 2.2 million people live in the Gaza Strip. There is now criticism of the Israeli military’s actions from many countries.

Help possible without a mandate

The federal government has already appealed to Israel to improve the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, said government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit. A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense explained that a mandate from the Bundestag was not necessary for the Air Force’s relief flights because it was not an order that could be enforced by force of arms.

Meanwhile, deputy Green party leader Agnieszka Brugger spoke of an extremely important and urgently needed contribution. “Once again, the Bundeswehr shows that it is there when it is needed,” emphasized Brugger. “But sufficient help can only arrive if the Israeli government finally opens more border crossings for humanitarian deliveries, as Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has repeatedly called for.”

Airlift for the Gaza Strip

With the operation, Germany is joining an initiative by Jordan to set up an airlift to supply the people in the Gaza Strip. Other partners such as the USA and France are taking part in the airlift.

However, dropping relief supplies by parachute also poses certain risks for the local population. A tragic accident had already occurred on one of the US military’s first aid flights: the parachute system of at least one aid pallet failed, and several people were killed on the ground when the aid material hit.

According to military information, the German part of the binational air transport squadron in Évreux, France, is responsible for taking part in the airlift mission. The Air Force itself describes the process as “gravity dropping,” in which goods leave the aircraft rolling over the loading ramp on a pallet and fall to the ground hanging from parachutes.

Overflight with the loading ramp open

If everything goes well, the packaged relief goods will end up in the designated “dropping zone” with sufficient braking. In addition to their altitude and their own speed, the pilots also have to pay particular attention to the wind conditions near the ground. In the densely populated areas of the Gaza Strip, there is not much scope for safe airdrops.

Risky operation: View from the tail of a US transport plane dropping relief supplies over the Gaza Strip.

Risky operation: View from the tail of a US transport plane dropping relief supplies over the Gaza Strip.

(Photo: dpa)

At the same time, fighting continues in the area. In addition to the fighting on the ground, combat operations by the Israeli military and possibly rocket fire can also be expected in the airspace over the Gaza Strip.

Dropping relief supplies over the open loading ramp is not one of the Bundeswehr’s standard procedures. The Luftwaffe inspector, Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz, had to grant special permission for the use of the German “Super Hercules” in this pragmatic but risky approach.

Aid ship on the way, UN calls for border opening

The population in the Gaza Strip is now also being helped by sea. On Tuesday, the ship “Open Arms” belonging to the aid organization of the same name set sail from the Cypriot port of Larnaca towards the Gaza Strip. The converted tug pulls a platform onto which relief supplies have been loaded – around 200 tons of drinking water, medicine and food.

The journey could take up to 60 hours as the ship moves slowly. However, according to a United Nations spokesman, sea shipments of aid to the Gaza Strip do not make up for the lack of urgently needed truck deliveries. Access is also needed by land; safe and regular distribution in the Gaza Strip must be guaranteed, it is said.

Much needed food

The United Nations is urgently calling for aid deliveries to be expanded by trucks and for goods to also be transported via border crossings to the particularly affected north of the Palestinian territory. On Tuesday evening it became known that an aid convoy with food reached the north of the Gaza Strip via a new Israeli military road.

Four Rolls-Royce engines with 4,500 hp each: this can be done per flight "Great Hercules" Carry up to 21 tons of cargo. Four Rolls-Royce engines with 4,500 hp each: this can be done per flight "Great Hercules" Carry up to 21 tons of cargo.

Four Rolls-Royce engines with 4,500 hp each: The “Super Hercules” can carry up to 21 tons of cargo per flight.

(Photo: picture alliance/dpa/Bundeswehr)

The Israeli military said it was a pilot project to prevent the aid supplies from falling into the hands of the Islamist Hamas. The results would now be presented to the government.

According to the UN, all order in the Gaza Strip has now collapsed due to the war. Trucks carrying relief supplies are repeatedly looted. In the fight for aid deliveries, there are also regular clashes between desperate Palestinians.

The Gaza war was triggered by the worst massacre in Israel’s history, which was carried out in Israel on October 7th by terrorists from the Islamist Hamas and other extremist Palestinian organizations. On the Israeli side, more than 1,200 people were killed. Israel responded with massive air strikes and a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip.

On the Palestinian side, more than 31,100 people have been killed since the war began, according to the Hamas-controlled health authority. There are no more reliable figures available. Without outside help, the humanitarian catastrophe threatens to spread among the population controlled by Hamas and cornered by Israel.

source site-34