The UK’s Ministry of Defence has announced its intention to deploy surveillance aircraft “over the Eastern Mediterranean, including operating in air space over Israel and Gaza”. They stated that the sole purpose of the aircraft would be to assist in hostage location. Notably, they specifically stated the aircraft would be unarmed and not participating in combat roles.
“Surveillance aircraft will be unarmed, do not have a combat role, and will be tasked solely to locate hostages. Only information relating to hostage rescue will be passed to the relevant authorities responsible for hostage rescue”.
The deployment of the surveillance aircraft joins previous British deployments to the region since the initial October 7th attacks. A week following the attacks, the UK stepped up its naval and air force presence in the region.
Additionally, the UK had deployed last week the HMS Diamond, a Type 45 destroyer, to bolster security in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea amidst increased attacks against ships traversing the region, including hijackings.
The UK’s deployments follow a larger pattern of Western deployments which are, in part, aimed at deterring any outside entities from joining the war with Hamas against Israel.
The MoD’s full statement may be read here.
Hamas has, of course, come out in condemnation of the UK’s deployment of aircraft over Gaza, stating the deployment makes “it a partner with the Zionist occupation in its crimes and responsible for the massacres inflicted upon our Palestinian people”.
Hamas’ full statement may be read below:
The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) condemns the intention of the United Kingdom (UK) to involve its military in the genocidal war against our Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.
The movement views the disclosure by the UK’s army of its intention to carry out reconnaissance aerial missions over the Gaza Strip as making it a partner with the Zionist occupation in its crimes and responsible for the massacres inflicted upon our Palestinian people.
The UK should have corrected its historically negative stance towards our people, disavowing the Balfour Declaration, which is considered the crime of the century, instead of committing another offense. It should remind the world of its shameful colonial past, thus placing the UK government in hostility with our people and all free people worldwide who reject Zionist aggression against Gaza.
We call on the UK to reconsider its direct participation and political and financial support for the genocidal war against Gaza. We urge London to cease its subordination to Washington and its contribution to igniting wars, and instead, contribute to the promotion of peace and stability in the region.
Islamic Resistance movement – Hamas
Dec 3, 2023″.