Irish military aircraft set to help get aid into Gaza

Republic of Ireland marshalling significant quantities of emergency humanitarian supplies for relief missions to war-torn area

Irish military aircraft are to be dispatched to the Middle East to help get vital humanitarian aid into Gaza, under plans being considered by the Government.

Under the proposals, Ireland will work with Jordan to air drop emergency humanitarian supplies into the region which is at risk of widespread famine due to the ongoing Israeli assault.

The move follows similar operations carried out by the United States and Jordan last weekend.

Under the plans being considered by Government, the Department of Foreign Affairs will work with military officials to transport aid into Jordan which will then be parachuted into Gaza.


The Republic has significant stocks of emergency supplies pre-positioned in warehouses in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), including tents and blankets for use in urgent humanitarian crises. Officials believe they can also source emergency food supplies at short notice.

The plan under consideration by officials is to dispatch one or both of the Defence Forces’ newly acquired Casa 295 maritime patrol aircraft to the UAE to pick up these supplies and ferry them to Jordan.

Once there, the supplies will be loaded on to Royal Jordanian Air Force transport aircraft which will drop them over Gaza, with the permission of the Israeli military.

Sources said Irish aircraft will not be involved in that stage of the operation as they cannot airdrop supplies themselves. Officials have been in close contact with their Jordanian counterparts on the issue as the two countries enjoy healthy diplomatic relations.

Various countries are considering using airdrops to get emergency supplies into Gaza due to Israel’s refusal to allow adequate supplies by road.

However, airdrops can deliver only a fraction of the supplies needed to meet the needs of Gazan citizens. “It’s as much a symbolic gesture as it is anything else. It highlights the weight of international opinion against Israel’s position,” said one Irish official.

In the Dáil on Thursday, Tánaiste Micheál Martin confirmed he has discussed the possibility of the State participating in an airdrop mission with his Jordanian counterpart.

“We are actively exploring the possibility of contributing to this multinational effort,” he said in response to questions from Independent TD for Kildare Cathal Berry.

“It’s not an issue at all of technical capacity or anything like that. Jordan obviously has a lot of experience interacting with the Israeli Government in terms of the airspace there and so on, and understands the issues that arise there.”

However, he said this should not distract from Israel’s obligations to allow aid supplies enter Gaza by truck.

He warned that the EU and world leaders had to keep the pressure on Israel to get trucks into Gaza and food drops “can never be used as an excuse for not doing the obvious ... to open up the borders and allow a sufficiency of aid in.”

Mr Martin said the area “is not just on the cusp of a famine but on a social breakdown and there needs to be constant pressure on Israel”. He added that airdrops can only supply a portion of what is required but are important to get supplies into northern Gaza where aid agencies have not been able to operate.

Labour foreign affairs spokesman Brendan Howlin said airdrops are “entirely ineffective”, with 34,000 or 38,000 meals being delivered to two million people from the air so far “and not even delivered where they’re needed or accessible”. He asked “what are we going to do to ensure that food is delivered before people die in unimaginable numbers”?

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times