Airdrop of aid packages kills 5 children in Gaza, Palestinian officials say

Displaced Palestinians live in makeshift tents in the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza. An airdrop from an unknown foreign country killed five children and injured several others at the Al Shati camp west of Gaza City. Humanitarian workers have criticized air drops as being dangerous and not sufficient to meet the needs of people in Gaza. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI

March 8 (UPI) -- Airdropped aid packages from an unidentified country killed five children and injured several others in Gaza on Friday, Palestinian officials said.

The Gaza Ministry of Health said five children were killed. The Government Media Office in Gaza also said several other people were injured in the "random" air drop.

Muhammad Al-Sheikh, head of the emergency care department at Al Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza City, told CNN the incident happened in the Al Shati camp west of Gaza City.

Some of the people injured in the drop are in serious condition, Al-Sheikh said.

Pentagon press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told ABC News that no one was injured in a U.S. airdrop conducted Friday in northern Gaza.

A U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules conducts an airdrop of humanitarian assistance over Gaza earlier this month. On Friday, Palestinian officials said airdropped aid packages from an unidentified country killed five children and injured several others. U.S. officials said American troops were not involved in the incident. Photo courtesy of U.S. Air Force/UPI

"Press reports that U.S. air drops resulted in civilian casualties on the ground are false, as we've confirmed that all of our aid bundles landed safely on the ground," Ryder said during a press briefing.

The Government Media Office in Gaza criticized air drops as "useless" and called for the immediate opening of land crossings into Gaza to more efficiently deliver aid to the approximately 2,400,000 people suffering from water and food shortages.

Adam Bouloukos, a senior official at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees-West Bank, told ABC News that airdrops are "dangerous" and a "drop in the bucket" in terms of need.

"You see the airdrops which look very dramatic, like, oh, this is a solution," he said. "[They are] immensely expensive, completely inefficient [and] dangerous. You're dropping these huge sacks of whatever it is on the beach with people running toward them."

Richard Gowan, the International Crisis Group's U.N. director, told CNN, "humanitarian workers always complain that airdrops are good photo opportunities but a lousy way to deliver aid."

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency has criticized Israel for not providing enough authorization to deliver aid into Gaza, and the fighting makes it difficult to deliver aid even when authorization is given.

The Israeli government alternatively has accused the U.N. and humanitarian agencies of creating logistical challenges resulting in a bottleneck, which the U.N. denies.

The World Food Program said Wednesday that Israeli authorities blocked a convoy of 14 trucks carrying food to Palestinians.

The convoy was the first effort from the WFP to deliver aid into northern Gaza after it suspended operations in February amid "complete chaos and violence due to the collapse of civil order."

Bouloukos told ABC News a cease-fire must happen in Gaza for aid to reach people by land.

"You can't deliver humanitarian aid if you're being shot at," he said.