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Spain air drops 26 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Gaza

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish military planes air dropped 26 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday and Madrid called on Israel to open land border crossings to prevent a famine, the Foreign Ministry said.

The operation, carried out in coordination with Jordan and co-financed by the European Union, dropped more than 11,000 food rations to alleviate the "catastrophic levels of food insecurity" faced by up to 1.1 million people in Gaza, the ministry said in a statement.

"Spain insists on the opening of the land crossings as an indispensable measure to avoid a famine situation," it added.

Other Western countries, including the United States, France and Germany, have also resorted to air drops to deliver aid to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza after nearly six months of war between Israeli forces and Hamas militants.

Aid agencies say deliveries into Gaza, much of which has been laid to waste by Israeli bombardments, have been held up by bureaucratic obstacles and insecurity since the start of the war on Oct. 7, 2023.

Last week, a U.N.-backed report said a famine was imminent and likely to occur by May in northern Gaza and could spread across the enclave by July.

The Spanish foreign ministry also reaffirmed its commitment to supporting UNRWA, the United Nations humanitarian agency for Palestinians, and to its continued existence.

In January, major donors to UNRWA, including the U.S. and Germany, suspended funding following allegations that around 12 of its tens of thousands of Palestinian employees were suspected of involvement in the attacks on Israel by Hamas which triggered the war.

Israel says it puts no limit on the amount of humanitarian aid entering Gaza and blames problems in it reaching civilians there on U.N. agencies, which it says are inefficient.

(Reporting by David Latona; Editing by Angus MacSwan)