Officials decline to say if British troops will be sent to deliver aid to Gaza

This satellite picture taken by Planet Labs PBC show the construction of a new aid port near Gaza City, Gaza Strip, on Wednesday, April 24, 2024. A new port is being built in the Gaza Strip ahead of a U.S. military-led operation to surge needed food and other aid into the besieged enclave as Israel's war on Hamas there grinds on, according to satellite images analyzed by Thursday, April 25, 2024, by The Associated Press. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)
A satellite picture taken by Planet Labs PBC shows the construction of a new aid port near Gaza City. Credit: Planet Labs PBC via AP

UK officials have declined to comment on suggestions that British troops may be tasked with delivering aid to Gaza from an offshore pier now under construction by the US military.

A report by the BBC claimed the UK government is considering deploying troops to drive the trucks that will carry aid from the pier along a floating causeway to the shore, adding that no decision has been made and that the proposal hasn't yet reached Rishi Sunak.

It came after a senior US military official said on Thursday that there would be no American “boots on the ground” and another nation would provide the personnel to drive the delivery trucks to the shore.

The official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity to discuss details not yet made public, declined to identify the third party.

Britain is already providing logistical support for construction of the pier, including a Royal Navy ship that will house hundreds of US soldiers and sailors working on the project.

Concerns of the slow pace of aid coming by border crossings on road prompted efforts to deliver supplies via the Mediterranean. Credit: AP

In addition, British military planners have been embedded at US Central Command in Florida and in Cyprus, where aid will be screened before shipment to Gaza, for several weeks, the UK's Ministry of Defence said on Friday. The UK Hydrographic Office has also shared analysis of the Gaza shoreline with the US to aid in construction of the pier. “It is critical we establish more routes for vital humanitarian aid to reach the people of Gaza, and the UK continues to take a leading role in the delivery of support in coordination with the US and our international allies and partners,” Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement.

Development of the port and pier in Gaza comes as Israel faces widespread international criticism over the slow trickle of aid into the Palestinian territory, where the United Nations says at least a quarter of the population sits on the brink of starvation. The Israel-Hamas began with a Hamas-led attack into southern Israel on Oct. 7, in which militants killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took some 250 people as hostages.

Israel says the militants are still holding around 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others. Since then, more than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s air and ground offensive, according to the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza, around two-thirds of them children and women.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…