UK to conduct surveillance flights over M-E to find Hamas hostage locations

by IANS |

London, Dec 3 (IANS) The UK will conduct unarmed surveillance flights over the Middle East to find Hamas hostage locations, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.


The news comes as five British nationals are missing amid the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, the BBC reported.


The UK government, however, has not said that if the missing persons were being held by the Hamas militant group.


In a statement, the MoD said: "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 that the aircraft will be unarmed 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 said, adding that "the safety of British nationals is our utmost priority".


The aircraft will include Shadow R1s, which the Royal Air Force use for intelligence gathering, the BBC quoted Ministry officials as saying.


Information on the potential locations of hostages will be shared with Israel, the officials added.


Fighting resumed in Gaza on December 1 after a temporary truce between Israel and Gaza ended, with the two warring sides blaming each other for the collapse.


The Israel military said it had hit more than 400 Hamas targets on the first day.


Between December 1 and 3, at least 193 Palestinians have been killed and 652 injured, according to the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health in Gaza.


Under the truce, a total of 104 hostages -- 80 Israelis, 24 foreign nationals -- and 240 Palestinian prisoners were released between November 24 to 30.


It is estimated that about 133 people remain captive in Gaza, including Israelis and foreign nationals, according to Israeli sources.


The war which erupted on October 7 has so far killed more than 15,000 people in Gaza, including 6,150 children and over 4,000 women.


In Israel, there were more than 1,200 casualties, including foreign nationals.

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