RAF to launch surveillance flights over Gaza to locate British hostages

Royal Air Force Boeing RC-135 Rivet
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The United Kingdom (UK) has announced it will launch surveillance flights from airspace above Israel and Gaza to locate hostages held in Palestine. 

The UK government has been working towards the release of hostages, including British nationals, since they were kidnapped on October 7, 2023, by armed Hamas fighters. 

On December 3, 2023, the Ministry of Defense (MOD) said that the “safety of British nationals is our utmost priority”. 

Under the confirmed plans, the Royal Air Force (RAF) will conduct surveillance flights over the Eastern Mediterranean. 

“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 Ministry of Defense said in a statement.  

Five British hostages have been reported as missing, but the UK government has not confirmed how many it believes are located in Gaza. 

Around 240 Israeli and foreign hostages were taken by Hamas when fighters entered Israel in October 2023. More than 100 have now been released.  

Fighting between Hamas fighters and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) began again on December 2, 2023, after a seven-day ceasefire came to an end in the morning. 

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