Britain will send two Navy ships to the Eastern Mediterranean and fly Royal Air Force surveillance planes over Israel in a significant show of military support against Hamas.
The military package includes P8 aircraft, surveillance assets, two Royal Navy ships – Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) vessels Lyme Bay and Argus – three Merlin helicopters and a company of Royal Marines, Downing Street said.
The RAF is expected to begin patrols from tomorrow, during which they will monitor threats to regional security, including the transfer of weapons to Hamas.
The British armed forces will be on stand-by to ‘deliver practical support to Israel and partners in the region, and offer deterrence and assurance,’ No 10 said.
Rishi Sunak said the deployment of the British armed forces would ‘support efforts to ensure regional stability and prevent further escalation’ in the bitter conflict.
It comes after the US sent its warships – including the world’s largest aircraft carrier – into Israeli waters following Saturday’s bloody assault by Hamas terrorists, which has so far seen over 1,200 Israelis killed.
Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels RFA Argus (pictured) and RFA Lyme Bay will reportedly be sent to the region
The RAF is expected to begin patrols in the next 24 hours, during which they will monitor threats to regional stability. Picture shows service personnel getting ready to deploy
File image shows Royal Marines testing amphibioius capability on RFA Lyme Bay, which will now be deployed to the eastern Mediterranean
Rishi Sunak has repeated the UK’s steadfast support for Israel and the government’s condemnation of Hamas terrorists.
He said tonight: ‘We must be unequivocal in making sure the types of horrific scenes we have seen this week will not be repeated.
‘Alongside our allies, the deployment of our world class military will support efforts to ensure regional stability and prevent further escalation.
‘Our military and diplomatic teams across the region will also support international partners to re-establish security and ensure humanitarian aid reaches the thousands of innocent victims of this barbaric attack from Hamas terrorists.’
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘The monstrous terrorist attacks committed by Hamas in recent days have proven why the UK must support Israel’s absolute right to self-defence and deter malign external interference.
‘No nation should stand alone in the face of such evil and today’s deployment will ensure Israel does not.
He added that the Royal Navy Task Group, RAF operations and ‘wider military support’ would act as ‘an undeniable display of the UK’s resolve to ensure Hamas’s terrorist campaign fails, whilst reminding those who seek to inflame tensions that the forces of freedom stand with the Israeli people.’
It comes after the Prime Minister tonight vowed to ‘do everything in our power’ to keep British Jews safe in the wake of Hamas‘s attack on Israel and a surge in antisemitic incidents domestically.
The Prime Minister announced £3million in extra funding to protect schools, synagogues and other Jewish community buildings.
Israeli tanks head towards the Gaza Strip border in southern Israel on Thursday
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed that ‘every Hamas member is a dead man’, with reports suggesting a ground offensive into Gaza is being prepared – a move likely to increase the death toll.
Sadiq Khan, the Labour mayor of London, has written to Foreign Secretary James Cleverly pushing for ‘urgent action’ to deliver humanitarian access to Gaza following similar calls by the United Nations and the World Health Organisation.
Labour’s shadow foreign secretary David Lammy also urged ‘for food, water, medicines and electricity’ supplies to be made available.
Alicia Kearns, Conservative chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, told LBC that Tel Aviv has ‘a duty under international humanitarian law’ to ensure those in Gaza have access to medical aid and water.
‘We can get the humanitarian aid in but no-one else can switch back on water apart from the Israelis,’ she said.
Israeli Iron Dome intercepts missiles launched from the Gaza strip on, 11 October 2023
The Foreign Office published a video on social media on Thursday of Mr Cleverly speaking during his visit to Israel.
The Cabinet minister said the UK supported Israel’s ‘right to defend itself’ and ‘right to recover the people who have been kidnapped’.
He made no mention of the situation in Gaza during the 30-second clip.
‘We will provide two drone the Israelis had asked for. In addition, there are first requests for ammunition for ships that we will now discuss with the Israelis,’ Pistorius said.