The UK will conduct surveillance flights over the Eastern Mediterranean, including over Israel and the Gaza Strip in order to aid efforts to rescue hostages held by Hamas, the British Defense Ministry announced on Saturday.

"Since the terrorist attacks against Israel of 7 October 2023, the UK government has been working with partners across the region to secure the release of hostages, including British nationals, who have been kidnapped. The safety of British nationals is our utmost priority," said the UK Defense Ministry.

"Surveillance aircraft will be unarmed, do not have a combat role, and will be tasked solely to locate hostages. Only information relating to hostage rescue will be passed to the relevant authorities responsible for hostage rescue," added the ministry. The aircraft that will be deployed in the area including Shadow R1s, according to The Guardian.

UK increased military presence in region shortly after Hamas massacre

In mid-October, shortly after the October 7 massacre conducted by Hamas, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak directed British military assets to be deployed to the eastern Mediterranean to support Israel.

As part of the deployment, maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft were instructed to fly in the region to track threats to regional stability. The deployment included P8 aircraft, surveillance assets, two Royal Navy ships, three Merlin helicopters, and a company of Royal Marines.

Last week, British Defense Secretary Grant Shapp announced that the HMS Diamond, a Type 45 Destroyer, was on its way to the Persian Gulf to bolster the UK's naval presence in the region and to work to deter escalations from actors seeking to disrupt maritime security.