The British Ministry of Defense has authorized the deployment of surveillance aircraft over Gaza in a reconnaissance and intelligence mission on the location of prisoners held by Hamas since the bloody attack on October 7.

The ‘Shadow R1’ spy plane from the US factory Beechcraft will cover the airspace of Israel and the Strip in an extension of the United Kingdom’s operations in the eastern Mediterranean.

“The safety of British nationals is our top priority,” a Defense spokesperson said in a statement published on the ministerial platform.

The expanded mission of the British aviation has been announced hours after the resumption of military hostilities between Israel and the Islamist group, after a pause of just eight days.

During the ceasefire, Hamas freed 80 women and children in an exchange of conditions negotiated with the mediation of Qatar, which also allowed the return of 240 Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli prisons and the distribution of humanitarian aid in the Strip.

It is estimated that there are still 130 hostages in Gaza held by Hamas and its network of related paramilitaries. Among them could be five Britons, whose whereabouts remain unknown since the bloody incursion into Israel. Downing Street has confirmed that at least 12 other UK nationals were killed in the attack.

“We want the release of all the hostages,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said as the mini-truce broke on Friday.

The ‘Shadow R1’ – a modification of the American King Air – will “only” share information related to the rescue operation of those held by Hamas, according to Defense.

“The surveillance aircraft will not be armed, will not have a combat role and will only be responsible for locating hostages,” the ministerial statement advances.

The United Kingdom previously sent combat ships and military reconnaissance ships to the eastern Mediterranean to support Israel and reinforce regional security and stability.