Finding alternative routes for delivering humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip is a focal point of UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps' visit to Cyprus and the wider region, as he informed the House of Commons.
Mr. Shapps is scheduled to meet with British Bases officials and staff in Cyprus, along with visits to the Palestinian territories and Israel. Accompanying him is the Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces.
During a House of Commons debate on Tuesday, Shapps expressed active efforts in exploring various avenues, citing the Rafah land crossing between Egypt and Gaza as a significant obstacle to seamless humanitarian aid delivery due to security concerns.
A Foreign Office source indicated on Tuesday that London is considering Cyprus' proposal for a maritime humanitarian corridor to Gaza, a matter discussed earlier with Cyprus' counterpart Michalis Giorgallas.
Grant Shapps emphasized the British military's role in supporting emergency planning, monitoring the evolving situation, and maintaining response readiness in the region. He mentioned the deployment of two ships, three helicopters, and a company of marines, with two additional warships stationed in the Middle East.
Confirming the initiation of British drone spy flights for intelligence-gathering and hostage rescue support, Shapps outlined the bases' role in supporting British soldiers in the region. He assured that they have not supplied offensive weapons to Israel during the conflict, limiting assistance to defensive equipment or equipment aiding in hostage recovery.
Regarding the bases' communication with the Cypriot government, Deputy Minister of Defence James Hippy mentioned regular discussions with the Republic of Cyprus as reliable partners. While there is no formal obligation, information about flights to and from the Akrotiri base is shared when appropriate.