Previously we featured analysis pointing out that the West risks falling into an ‘escalation trap’ in Gaza and the region. Certainly the Israeli army (IDF) finds itself in a quagmire to some extent in Gaza, given the extreme difficulty of grueling urban combat.
It’s already been long known that the US has sent MQ-9 Reaper drones to collect intelligence over Gaza, as part of assistance to the IDF and Mossad. These flights have reportedly increased as Washington has gotten more involved in an advisory capacity. But fresh investigative reporting from Declassified UK shows that Britain’s role has expanded as well.
“The UK military has flown 50 surveillance missions over Gaza since December, it can be revealed,” Declassified UK writes. “The flights have taken off from Britain’s controversial air base on Cyprus, RAF Akrotiri, and averaged around one a day since the beginning of December.”
The report documents that the surveillance flights are near daily at this point, with the Shadow R1 being the main drone of choice. The aircraft is manufactured by US company Raytheon, and another £110m contract has recently been awarded.
Data collected by the independent UK media outlet shows that most flights last an average of six hours, amid increasingly busy skies over the Gaza Strip.
While Hamas has a variety and likely thousands of surface-to-surface rockets that it continues to use against Israel, the group appears to lack sophisticated anti-air missiles. Otherwise, it might be expected that US, UK, or Israeli drones might have been shot down by now.
Already it’s become obvious that the Western coalition has been drawn more deeply into the Red Sea and Yemen conflict. At this point, the members of Operation Prosperity Guardian have bombed Houthi positions in at least seven waves of airstrikes.
Israel is meanwhile conducting more drone strikes in south Lebanon as the tit-for-tat with Hezbollah escalates…
Forget the propaganda being spun by the Mighty Wurlitzer.
The Israel-Gaza conflict is escalating and is regional.
— Steve Hanke (@steve_hanke) January 22, 2024
So far these have not deterred the Iran-linked Houthis, and the US is now mulling longer term more committed offensive action. The UK is expected to sign on, and all of this suggests the aforementioned ‘escalation trap’ is spiraling… and this might have been Hamas’ plan all along.