The UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has issued a directive for the deployment of maritime military assets to the eastern Mediterranean area with the aim of providing assistance to Israel, enhancing regional stability, and mitigating the risk of escalation, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced 13 October.

The move follows a series of devastating attacks in Israel perpetrated by militants Fromm Hamas in Gaza on 7 October, and stands as a likely deterrent agains the broadening of the conflict to include Hezbollah in Lebanon, which has been indicated in isolated violent events in the past few days. 

“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,” said Sunak.

A task force from the Royal Navy will be sent to the eastern Mediterranean in the next week as a precautionary action aimed at providing assistance for humanitarian endeavours, while today a deployment of maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft in the area will monitor potential risks to regional stability, specifically focusing on activities involving the transportation of weapons to terrorist organisations. 

“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,” continued Sunak.

The military assets being utilised include a P8 aircraft, surveillance capabilities, two Royal Navy vessels (RFA Lyme Bay and RFA Argus), three merlin helicopters, and a contingent of Royal Marines. This group is intended to provide tangible assistance to Israel and its regional partners, and to serve as a means of deterrence and reassurance. 

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“The Royal Navy Task Group, RAF operations and our wider military support will be an undeniable display of the UK’s resolve to ensure Hamas’s terrorist campaign fails,” said UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, “whilst reminding those who seek to inflame tensions that the forces of freedom stand with the Israeli people.”

The Prime Minister has further requested the reinforcement of military forces in Israel, Cyprus, and the surrounding area in order to enhance contingency preparation and assist neighbouring nations in managing any repercussions arising from unrest inside Israel.  

Sunak has recently engaged in a conversation with the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, today in order to get insight into the broader regional context and emphasise the significance of facilitating the departure of civilians from Gaza. Sisi has said that Gaza’s must “stay steadfast and remain on their land,” according to a Times of Israel report, and is unwilling to receive mass influx of Palestinian refugees.