The British military is set to conduct surveillance flights over the Gaza Strip using unarmed and unmanned drones, in an effort to search for hostages held by Palestinian Resistance group, Hamas.
According to a statement by the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence, it “will conduct surveillance flights over the Eastern Mediterranean, including operating in air space over Israel and Gaza”, in what it called “support of the ongoing hostage rescue activity”.
The Ministry clarified that “Surveillance aircraft will be unarmed, do not have a combat role, and will be tasked solely to locate hostages”, and insisted that only “information relating to hostage rescue will be passed to the relevant authorities responsible for hostage rescue”, referring to the Israeli military.
It refrained from revealing when the surveillance flights will begin, but the British military will reportedly be using aircraft such as Shadow R1s to collect intelligence relating to hostages’ locations. The announcement joins similar moves by the United States over the besieged territory, furthering both London and Washington’s support for Israel and its military bombardment and invasion of the strip.
In Hamas’s military operation into Israeli-held territory surrounding Gaza on 7 October, it took around 240 Israelis and foreigners captive, in an effort to use them to bargain for the release of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel’s occupation.
Since then, Hamas has released around 110 hostages, consisting of 86 Israelis and 24 foreigners, and Israel has released around 240 Palestinian prisoners. Israeli authorities have, however, reportedly arrested hundreds of more Palestinians in compensation, ensuring the numbers it detains do not decrease.
During the attack by Hamas, at least 12 British nationals were reportedly killed and five remain missing, although the UK has not confirmed how many nationals are held hostage by the Palestinian resistance group. “The safety of British nationals is our utmost priority”, the Ministry said.