UK launches unarmed surveillance flights to find Hamas hostages

UK launches unarmed surveillance flights to find Hamas hostages

Dec 3, 2023 - 14:30
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UK launches unarmed surveillance flights to find Hamas hostages

The United Kingdom will carry out unarmed surveillance flights over West Asia to search for Hamas hostage locations, the British Ministry of Defence has said. The flights will help gather intelligence on potential hostage whereabouts.

Five British nationals are missing and the UK government has not said how many could possibly be held by Hamas.

“The safety of British nationals is our utmost priority,” the ministry said in a statement. “In support of the ongoing hostage rescue activity, the Ministry of Defence will conduct surveillance flights over the eastern Mediterranean, including operating in air space over Israel and Gaza,” it added.

It said that the aircraft would be unarmed and tasked solely to locate hostages taken by Hamas after the deadly attack on southern Israeli towns and cities on October 7.

“Only information relating to hostage rescue will be passed to the relevant authorities responsible for hostage rescue.”

The aircraft will include Shadow R1s, which the Royal Air Force use for intelligence gathering, ministry officials said. Information on the potential locations of hostages will be shared with Israel. More than 130 captives are believed to be in Gaza.

The Pentagon said unarmed UAV drones had been deployed over Gaza in “support of hostage recovery efforts”, earlier this month.

“The US is conducting unarmed UAV flights over Gaza, as well as providing advice and assistance to support our Israeli partner as they work on their hostage recovery efforts,” the Pentagon said.

Fighting resumed on Friday after a week-long truce in Gaza. The IDF said it had hit more than 400 Hamas targets on the first day. Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry says at least 193 people have been killed in the latest wave of Israeli attacks.

The ministry says more than 15,200 people have died in the war in Gaza, triggered by Hamas’s attack on Israel on 7 October that killed at least 12,000 people.

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