Beginning on Friday, the United Kingdom will begin sending surveillance aircraft, two Royal Navy support ships, and approximately one hundred Royal Marines to the eastern Mediterranean in order to provide assistance to Israel and to assist in the prevention of any rapid escalation of war in the Middle East.
According to an announcement made by Downing Street, patrol flights of Poseidon P-8 aircraft and other planes will start this coming Friday. These flights will be tasked in part with monitoring any efforts to transport weapons from nations such as Iran or Russia to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Existing United Kingdom military personnel and fighter aircraft, which are based at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, are also on notice as Israel prepares for an expected ground assault on Gaza. This comes after Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israeli citizens last Saturday, which resulted in the deaths of over 1,300 Israeli civilians. The number of people killed in Gaza has now exceeded 1,400.
There is a continuing and widespread fear that Hezbollah, which has its headquarters in Lebanon, may try to establish a second front in the north with the support of its partner Iran. Syria claimed earlier on Thursday that its airports in Damascus and Aleppo had been targeted by the Israeli air force. The attack was most likely carried out in an effort to destroy any supply of armaments that were headed towards the group.
Rishi Sunak, PM of United Kingdom, stated that the country’s objective was to “support efforts to ensure regional stability and prevent further escalation,” as well as “ensure humanitarian aid reaches the thousands of innocent victims of this barbaric attack from Hamas terrorists.”
The US aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford arrived in the eastern Mediterranean earlier this week, accompanied by a cruiser and four destroyers for assistance. The mission of this deployment was to discourage any actor “seeking to escalate the situation or widen this war,” and it took place earlier this week.
The naval task group that represents the United Kingdom is substantially smaller and is made up of support ships. The RFA Lyme Bay, a logistics support vessel, and the RFA Argus, the emergency medical ship for the Royal Navy, each have a capacity of one hundred beds and are in charge of the operation.
It was not immediately clear who the Ministry of Defense planned to assist with their humanitarian efforts; nonetheless, they described this as “a contingency measure” as a way to show their support for humanitarian work. The Israeli government has imposed an embargo on the Gaza Strip.
Already present in the area are two British warships: the HMS Duncan, which is under the command of NATO and is stationed in the eastern Mediterranean, and the HMS Lancaster, which is a part of the regular naval presence that the United Kingdom maintains in the Persian Gulf.
No. 10 added that Sunak had spoken to Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi earlier on Thursday in an effort to “understand the wider regional picture and underscore the importance of supporting civilians to leave Gaza.” Downing Street also stated that Sunak had this conversation.