The Singapore government has deployed a Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) aircraft to deliver urgent life-saving supplies for civilians in Gaza, while humanitarian supply lines remain open.
The aircraft, an RSAF A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport, departed Changi Air Base (East) for Egypt in the early hours of Thursday morning (November 30) with a humanitarian assistance package comprising medicines, medical supplies, blankets, sanitation items, water filters and food.
The items were provided by the Ministry of Health, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), as well as other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as the Singapore Red Cross, Mercy Relief and Relief Singapore.
A total of 46 personnel from the SAF, including pilots, aircrew, engineers and security personnel, are involved in the humanitarian mission.
An urgent matter
After Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 7 and killed some 1,200 civilians, Israel retaliated against Hamas in Gaza with heavy air bombardment and a ground assault. Palestinian authorities said more than 15,000 people are confirmed killed.
Over 1.7 million people of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million are estimated to be displaced. United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres said yesterday that the Gaza Strip was in the midst of an “epic humanitarian catastrophe”, urging the world not to look away.
Under international pressure, Israel and Hamas agreed to a four-day truce that began last Friday and was then extended for another two days.
This means Singapore’s humanitarian effort is coming at the tail end of the truce, with talks between Israel and Hamas still ongoing on a possible extension.
Goods that are part of Singapore’s humanitarian assistance for Gaza being loaded onto the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport from the Republic of Singapore Air Force. — Picture courtesy of Singapore Ministry of Defence via TODAY
Speaking to the media at the Changi Air Base yesterday evening before the aircraft’s departure, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan noted this timeline as the “reason why there is an urgency” for the delivery of aid, and expressed hope that the truce would be extended.
“We know that the situation is dire and there’s an urgent need for assistance to be delivered as soon as possible,” he said.
“We’re very grateful that the RSAF has enabled us to deliver this essential medical and humanitarian assistance quickly in this very narrow window.”
Senior Minister of State for Defence Zaqy Mohamad was also present to send off the SAF crew, along with the Egyptian Ambassador-designate to Singapore Ahmed Mostafa Abdelaal Mohamed, Singapore’s Representative to the Palestinian Authority Hawazi Daipi and representatives from participating NGOs.
In order to determine which supplies were most needed, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had worked with the Egyptian Red Crescent, a humanitarian society that provides emergency medical services and humanitarian aid in Egypt.
The Egyptian Red Cresent will receive the package from the SAF’s Changi Regional Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Coordination Centre — established in 2014 by the Ministry of Defence and the Singapore Armed Forces to coordinate military responses to assist disaster relief efforts — and then facilitate the delivery of the humanitarian aid supplies to Gaza.
Singapore’s Ambassador to Egypt Dominic Goh will witness the handover of the humanitarian package to the Egyptian Red Crescent upon its arrival in Egypt.
The Singapore government did not reveal the RSAF aircraft’s exact landing location due to security reasons.
Today’s package is Singapore’s second tranche of humanitarian aid for Gaza.
The first tranche was sent earlier this month, when Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman was in Cairo to witness the handover of over S$2 million in public donations to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
In a joint statement today, MFA and the Ministry of Defence said that Singaporeans have contributed a total of over S$7 million in cash and in-kind donations to support relief efforts in Gaza to date.
“Singaporeans feel deep compassion for victims of the war and have responded with heartfelt generosity,” the statement said.
The ministries added that they would “continue to work closely” with humanitarian partners to offer additional assistance and support to affected communities.
“We urge all parties to allow the immediate, safe, and unhindered provision of humanitarian aid to affected civilians throughout Gaza,” they said.