Britain’s Royal Air Force to fly spy planes over Gaza looking for hostages

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Britain’s Royal Air Force to fly spy planes over Gaza looking for hostages

Surveillance flights will feed relevant information to Israel in the hunt for the last 137 people being held in the Gaza Strip

A Shadow R1 surveillance plane, pictured in 2011 at RAF Waddington
A Shadow R1 surveillance plane, pictured in 2011 at RAF Waddington

Britain’s Royal Air Force has said it will conduct unarmed surveillance flights over Gaza in a bid to help trace the remaining hostages held by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

It marks a step forward in UK-Israeli military cooperation and is believed to be the first time since the Suez War in 1956 that one has actively helped the other over what might be deemed “enemy territory” during armed combat.

The reconnaissance flights will include Shadow R1s, which are used by the RAF for intelligence gathering. Information will be shared with Israel’s military, whose ground forces are currently operating inside the Gaza Strip.

A week-long pause in the fighting, brokered by Qatar, allowed for the return of 110 hostages taken from southern Israel on 7 October, in exchange for aid supplies. Fighting has now resumed, with Israeli forces still looking for 137 hostages.

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

“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.”

It is not the first instance of Britain offering Israel military support since it was attacked by Hamas terrorists on 7 October. In the days after the attack, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was sending a destroyer to the Mediterranean.

Then last week, Britain’s Royal Navy said it was sending another ship – HMS Diamond – to join HMS Lancaster and HMS Duncan on patrol in the region.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Recent events have proven how critical the Middle East remains to global security and stability.

“From joint efforts to deter escalation, following the onset of the renewed conflict in Israel and Gaza, to now the unlawful and brazen seizure of MV Galaxy Leader by the Houthis in the Red Sea, it is critical that the UK bolsters our presence in the region.”

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: