The UK’s Special Air Squad is preparing to aid Israel in any potential attempt to rescue up to 10 British civilians being held by Hamas in Gaza, Britain’s i newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Several military sources told the newspaper that SAS personnel were working with members of the elite Israeli Sayeret Matkal force and US Delta Force on potential attempts to rescue more than 200 hostages of various nationalities believed to be held by Hamas in hideouts and tunnels.
“It is understood that events in southern Israel have triggered a change in the readiness of UK special forces,” one source told the i.
“An SAS squadron on a training operation had last week finished its detachment several days early as part of unspecified deployment plans,” the source added.
UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly confirmed on Monday that the government believed as many as 10 British nationals were being held hostage in Gaza.
Only three hostage-rescue missions are believed to have been carried out by UK special forces since 2011, the i reported. They took place in Kenya, Nigeria and Yemen. Six intelligence-gathering deployments took place over the same period of time, including one in Ukraine prior to Russia’s invasion last year.
“The way that Hamas is holding the hostages looks like they’ve scattered them over the territory of Gaza very widely,” Justin Crump, a military veteran and chief executive of security and intelligence group Sibylline, told the newspaper.
He added that Hamas wants to keep the hostages alive and will be giving them food and water, and taking care of their medical needs, because they are considered “bargaining chips” in any negotiations with Israel.
(c) 2023 the Arab News
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