UK PM Rishi Sunak deploys Royal Navy ships to support Israel

British PM deploys military assets to the eastern Mediterranean to reinforce 'regional stability' and monitor threats

UK PM deploys military assets to the Eastern Mediterranean to bolster regional stability and support Israel in times of crisis.  (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
UK PM deploys military assets to the Eastern Mediterranean to bolster regional stability and support Israel in times of crisis. (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)


British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has directed UK military assets to be deployed to the eastern Mediterranean to support Israel, reinforce regional stability and prevent escalation, Downing Street announced in London on Thursday, 12 October.

A Royal Navy task group will be moved to the eastern Mediterranean next week as a contingency measure to support humanitarian efforts and maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft will begin flying in the region from Friday to track threats to regional stability such as the transfer of weapons to terrorist groups.

The military package, which includes P8 aircraft, surveillance assets, two Royal Navy ships – RFA Lyme Bay and RFA Argus – three merlin helicopters and a company of Royal Marines, will be on standby to deliver practical support to Israel and partners in the region, and offer deterrence and assurance.

“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.

“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,” he said.

Downing Street said the UK PM has also asked for all military teams in Israel, Cyprus and across the region to be bolstered to support contingency planning and the efforts of neighbouring countries to deal with any spill over from instability in Israel.

“The monstrous terrorist attacks committed by Hamas in recent days have proven why the UK must support Israel’s absolute right to self-defence and deter malign external interference. No nation should stand alone in the face of such evil and today’s deployment will ensure Israel does not,” UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps.

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

Sunak also spoke to the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, on Thursday to understand the wider regional picture and underscore the importance of supporting civilians to leave Gaza.

According to Downing Street, Sunak is due to speak to northern European leaders about the situation in Israel at the Joint Expeditionary Force summit in Sweden on Friday. They are expected to discuss the vital need to work with partners across the Middle East to support stability, while simultaneously remaining focussed on backing Ukraine’s defence against Russia.

He will also visit British warship HMS Diamond while in Gotland, Sweden, which is on patrol in northern Europe to reinforce security in the region. While on board, the Prime Minister will hear about the capabilities of Diamond’s sister ship, HMS Duncan, which is deployed in the Mediterranean with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

The package of military support, which will work alongside allies already in the region, is a significant demonstration of the UK’s support for Israel’s right to self-defence and will allow the UK to adapt to the needs of partners as the situation evolves over the coming weeks.

The step change comes after the Prime Minister spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week, and the Defence Secretary discussed the situation with his NATO counterparts in Brussels.

Earlier on Thursday, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly announced that the UK will facilitate commercial flights to help vulnerable British nationals wanting to leave Israel.

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Published: 13 Oct 2023, 10:58 AM