LONDON (Reuters) -British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is deploying two Royal Navy ships and surveillance aircraft to the eastern Mediterranean to support Israel and reinforce regional stability, his Downing Street office said on Thursday.
The military package, which includes P8 surveillance planes, other surveillance assets, two auxiliary ships, three Merlin helicopters and a company of Royal Marines, will be on standby in the region to provide “practical support to Israel … and offer deterrence and assurance,” Downing Street said.
“We must be unequivocal in making sure the types of horrific scenes we have seen this week will not be repeated,” Sunak said in a statement.
“Alongside our allies, the deployment of our world class military will support efforts to ensure regional stability and prevent further escalation.”
Sunak said UK military and diplomatic teams will also support international partners to re-establish security and ensure humanitarian aid reaches the region.
UK military teams in Israel, Cyprus and across the region will also be bolstered to support contingency planning.
Sunak also spoke to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi “to understand the wider regional picture and underscore the importance of supporting civilians to leave Gaza,” Downing Street said.
He is also due to speak to northern European leaders about Israel at the Joint Expeditionary Force defence gathering in Sweden on Friday.
The leaders are expected to discuss the need for stability in the Middle East, while simultaneously remaining focused on supporting Ukraine’s defence against Russia, Downing Street said.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Sachin Ravikumar and Toby Chopra)