UK spy planes flying over Gaza during Israel war crimes: reports

  • Post last modified:May 31, 2024
  • Reading time:5 mins read

The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) has written a letter to the UK government seeking “urgent clarification” on British spy planes flying over Gaza during Israel’s genocidal assault. Crucially, it raises vital questions over potential UK complicity in Israeli war crimes in Palestine.

UK Spy planes over Gaza

An investigation by Declassified UK revealed on 8 May that the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) has conducted 200 surveillance flights over Gaza since 3 December. As the investigative news outlet reported:

All the British spy flights have taken off from RAF Akrotiri, the UK’s sprawling air base on Cyprus, and have been in the air for around six hours.

Gaza sits around 30 minutes flight time from the base so it is likely the RAF has gathered around 1,000 hours of surveillance footage over Gaza.

What’s more, Declassified identified that the RAF were operating a spy flight over Gaza at the time Israel assassinated seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid workers.

Since its investigation, the RAF has continued these reconnaissance flights. This included a RAF aircraft flying over Gaza on 26 May. Of course, this was the same day Israel brutally massacred 45 displaced Gazans in a Rafah refugee camp in the so-called ‘safe zone’.

In its statement in December, the MoD claimed it was conducting these flights in “support of the ongoing hostage rescue activity”. Moreover, it said that:

Only information relating to hostage rescue will be passed to the relevant authorities responsible for hostage rescue.

However, Declassified’s findings has brought these claims into question.

Now, a new Declassified investigation has additionally unearthed more prospective evidence of UK complicity in Israel’s genocidal siege. In tandem with these spy flights, it found that the British military has flown 60 aircraft to Israel since it started its genocide in Gaza. Notably, while it acknowledged the purpose of the visits remained “unclear”, it identified these as cargo planes capable of carrying over 100 soldiers, as well as weaponry.

Israel commits war crimes as UK aircraft look on

Given all this, on 30 May, the IJCP sent a letter to the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO).

Specifically, the letter argues that the government must disclose certain information to the UK public. Firstly, this concerns if the RAF is sharing intelligence from these reconnaissance flights with the Israeli military. In particular it states that in light of Israel’s WCK and Rafah refugee camp strikes:

The public urgently requires information about these and other incidents, to establish whether British intelligence was in Israeli hands at the time of the strikes, including intelligence potentially used for target acquisition.

On top of this, it seeks to establish if the UK is sharing information from these missions with the International Criminal Court (ICC). The IJCP wrote:

It is also imperative to know whether footage captured of these apparent war crimes will be shared with the Hague. In Parliament, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps declined five times to confirm or deny whether such intelligence will be shared with the ICC. This is despite the fact that the UK, as a State Party to the Rome Statute, has committed to support the ICC’s mandate to prosecute individuals for international crimes.

Echoing this, ICJP legal officer Zaki Sarraf stated:

The government has provided the public with little-to-any information on the nature or volume of intel shared with Israel, nor whether it will be shared with the ICC. On both counts, it is imperative that the public knows. British spy planes flying over Gaza whilst Israel commits brutal war crimes against the Palestinians is deeply concerning, particularly considering the UK government’s opacity on the issue.

Feature image via EGCC Aviation – Youtube

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