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PM sends Royal Navy vessels and surveillance planes to support Israel

Rishi Sunak said the deployment to the eastern Mediterranean would ‘support efforts to ensure regional stability and prevent further escalation’.

Royal Navy vessels and surveillance aircraft are being sent to the eastern Mediterranean to support Israel, the Prime Minister has announced.

Rishi Sunak said the deployment of the British armed forces would “support efforts to ensure regional stability and prevent further escalation” in the conflict between Tel Aviv and Gaza.

The flare-up of violence in the Middle East, ignited by a wide-ranging Hamas attack on Israel at the weekend, has already claimed at least 2,400 lives.

Downing Street said maritime patrol and surveillance planes will begin flying in the region from Friday to track threats, including monitoring activity such as the “transfer of weapons to terrorist groups”.

A Royal Navy task group will be moved to the eastern Mediterranean next week as a contingency measure to support humanitarian efforts, it added.

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.

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.

The deployment appears to represent a shift in approach to Britain’s military involvement, with the Prime Minister’s official spokesman earlier this week saying there were “no plans to redeploy UK military assets to Israel”.

Mr Sunak said: “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.”

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