The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has carried out the fourth delivery of humanitarian aid to support civilians in Gaza, arriving in Egypt recently, according to an RAF release on 24 November 2023.

The C-17 Globemaster from 99 Squadron at RAF Brize Norton delivered 23 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Al Arish in Egypt, for onward transfer to Gaza. The load included 4,500 blankets and 4,500 sleeping mats for distribution by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

According to the service, to-date the RAF has delivered a total of 74 tonnes of aid supplies for Gaza, including wound care packs, water purification pumps, solar lanterns and support equipment for the Egyptian Red Crescent.

On a recent visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the new UK Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron condemned the Hamas attacks of 7 October and announced £30m additional humanitarian funding for Gaza.

A tentative truce appears to be holding across Gaza as Israel and Hamas pause combat operations to enable vital humanitarian supplies to enter the territory and the exchange of prisoners and hostages.

UK military active in eastern Mediterranean region

The UK military has an extensive presence in the eastern Mediterranean region, with its airborne capabilities based large UK bases on the island of Cyprus. A UK naval task force was also dispatched to the region followed Hamas’ attacks on Israel last month, and Israel’s subsequent response which has seen land forces seize much of north Gaza.

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The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) stated earlier this month that UK military aircraft have provided surveillance support to Israel, following the deployment of assets to the eastern Mediterranean amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

In written parliamentary responses confirming the deployments on 13 November, MoD officials stated the UK had deployed “P-8 and other surveillance assets to improve our situational awareness in the region and provide assurance to our partners”.

A second UK parliamentary response stated that flights to improve situational awareness included the prevention of “transfer of weapons to terrorist groups”, and to “wider” regional security, in addition to the delivery of humanitarian aid into Egypt.

A total of 12 UK military aircraft had deployed to the region, MoD officials confirmed, with some flights having conducted “surveillance support to Israel”, although no indication was given as to when they took place due to operational security reasons.