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United Kingdom sending surveillance aircraft to search for British hostages in Gaza


British military officials said they would launch surveillance flights over Gaza to search for hostages abducted Oct. 7 by Hamas, as fighting resumed between Israel and the Palestinian militant group after a seven-day cease-fire.

At least five Britons are reported missing, and the UK government has not confirmed how many could be in Hamas captivity in the Gaza Strip.

“The safety of British nationals is our utmost priority,” the Ministry of Defense said Saturday in a statement. “The UK government has been working with partners across the region to secure the release of hostages, including British nationals, who have been kidnapped.”

Hamas militants abducted about 240 Israeli and foreign hostages during the Oct. 7 attack. More than 100 have been released, with most being freed during the recent week-long cessation of hostilities.

“Surveillance aircraft will be unarmed, do not have a combat role, and will be tasked solely to locate hostages,” the Ministry of Defense said. “Only information relating to hostage rescue will be passed to the relevant authorities responsible for hostage rescue.”

The resumption of hostilities has stymied the chances for the quick release of some 130 hostages still believed to be in Hamas custody.

Soon after the conflict erupted, the British government sent surveillance aircraft, two Royal Navy ships and about 100 Royal Marines to the eastern Mediterranean to back Israel and prevent the conflict in Gaza from spreading to other countries in the Middle East.

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