The UK announced on Saturday that it would begin surveillance flights in the skies above Gaza in search of captives held by Hamas. Over the past month, the US has conducted drone operations seeking hostages. Both Washington and London have engaged in a military buildup in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea in support of Tel Aviv.
“The safety of British nationals is our utmost priority. In support of the ongoing hostage rescue activity, the UK Ministry of Defence will conduct surveillance flights over the Eastern Mediterranean, including operating in air space over Israel and Gaza,” the statement released by the UK government said.
“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 statement continued.
The statement added that London was working to secure the release of British citizens held by Hamas but did not disclose how many are being held.
UK official Victoria Atkins told the BBC on Sunday that the drones would be “unmanned and unarmed.” The US has been conducting similar flights over Gaza over the past month.
Washington suspended its surveillance operations over Gaza during the seven-day truce that ended on Friday. The US has not officially announced it resumed its drone flights over the besieged strip. The New York Times reported that the flights started days after October 7, and they are being conducted by MQ-9 Reaper drones, which are capable of carrying powerful missiles.
The US has also deployed special operations forces to Israel and shipped thousands of bombs to Tel Aviv. While the White House has refused to place conditions on the US military aid to Israel, Tel Aviv’s military operations have killed vastly more Palestinian children than members of Hamas.